Automobile

Off-Road Advocacy Groups and Residents In Colorado Towns Spar Over OHVs

It has been many years since I’ve hiked the trails between Silverton, Eureka, and Ouray, Colorado, passing through the ghost town of Animas Forks, but I’ll never forget how peaceful and beautiful it was. I like motorized vehicles, too, and I can imagine how exciting it would be to traverse the route on an OHV. 

Towns like Taylor Park cater to OHV tourism, and my family goes fly fishing up there every year. There are guidebooks and designated trails for OHVs and things have been harmonious until the past year. “When in town, throttle down” is a catchy slogan towns have taken on to encourage riders to follow posted speed limits and avoid kicking up dust.

A confusing maze of local and state regulations makes it difficult to know which towns allow OHVs on public roads and which don’t, and lately the rules have shifted back and forth between the priorities of tourism dollars and residential preferences. In any case, there are riders treating Colorado like their own Wild West and making it difficult for others to enjoy it. 

Some take their vehicles off trail, which is especially troublesome at the tree line because it disrupts natural growth. When a vehicle makes tracks that go off the trail, they stay there forever, Dull says. Then someone else sees the tracks and thinks it’s ok too; eventually, you end up with a new trail that wasn’t there before. Ecologists worry about the long-term impact on Colorad’s ecosystem. 

That’s not to say that Colorado doesn’t welcome OHVs or tourists. According to Denver.org, nearly 90 million visitors spent $24.2 billion in 2019; the tourism industry supports close to 200,000 jobs. It makes sense for those visitors on motorized vehicles to respect the people and the land, too, and Dull is hoping they’ll hear the message. 

“We support recreation; all of it,” Dull says. “We’re not the fun police. We love all of this and I’ve grown up riding my whole life. We just want you to do it right: exhibit good behavior and ethics and don’t screw it up. I want everyone to have good memories of their rides on our trails.”

Heading to Colorado for some fun? Check out StayTheTrail.org’s brochures and good ridership tips here.

Got a tip? Send the writer a note: [email protected]



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