State weighs new rules for off-roading

December 17, 2018

Off-highway recreation enthusiasts from out of state could soon have to pay for the privilege of using Arizona’s desert trails.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission heard a proposal earlier this month for changes to how Arizona governs off-highway vehicle recreation. Among them is a measure already approved by Arizona’s Legislature affecting off-highway vehicles transported to Arizona from out of state.

“Rather than allowing people from everywhere except Arizona to use our trails for free, the proposed change would require out-of-state off-highway vehicle users to buy a special decal to operate within the state,” said Game and Fish OHV Law Enforcement Program Coordinator David Rigo.

Traditionally, only Arizona residents were required to attach decal stickers to their off-highway vehicles, at a cost of $25 per year. No such decal has been required of out-of-state off-roaders until now.

The revenues raised from the sale of such decals would benefit the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund for city and road maintenance. It would also go toward Arizona State Parks and Trails for grants, agreements, trail construction and development, signage and maps. The State Land Department would receive a portion of the money for trail mitigation, signage and enforcement. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish would also receive a portion of the revenue for law enforcement measures, education and outreach.

“The use of OHVs in Arizona has increased 347 percent since 1998,” Rigo said. “It has outpaced the funding needed to manage that growth, protect wildlife habitat and help maintain recreational access … the rule regarding indicia for out-of-state OHV users will provide additional revenue while sharing some of the financial burden now shouldered by Arizona’s OHV community.”

Three of the other proposed rules pertain to off-highway vehicle education, and would allow individuals or companies to offer training classes based on the department’s standards and curricula.

“The more people who are properly trained to operate their machines, the safer we will all be,” Rigo said.

Another proposed rule would address the amount of noise off-highway vehicles may be allowed to make, echoing existing standards on how loud boat and car engines are allowed to be, according to Rigo.

According to Rigo, all Game and Fish Department rules are created through a public process, inviting public comment on any proposed changes.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission will vote on the proposals at a future meeting. If approved, the new rules will be submitted to the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council and the Arizona Secretary of State for approval. The rules could become effective as early as February, state officials said.

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