OHV Enforcement Working Group
Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in partnership with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) assembled an Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Enforcement Working Group to guide the agency in recommending changes to current OHV laws, regulations and practices. The Department is sharing this information with the extensive list of individuals and organizations who have expressed an interest in the subject of OHV management to allow you to follow the progress of this committee on DCR's website http://www.mass.gov/dcr/recreate/ohv/ohvworkgroup.htm and share your thoughts regarding OHV laws, regulations and management.
BackgroundDramatic growth in motorized trail recreation in the last decade and the lack of legally established riding areas has resulted in widespread complaints about illegal off highway vehicle use. Off highway vehicles, also known as recreational vehicles or off road vehicles (ORV) typically include equipment such as all terrain vehicles (ATV’s) and off-highway motorcycles. Effective and sustainable management of this growing recreational activity requires three inter-related elements:
Legal, sustainable and accessible places to ride that offer environmental protections and safe OHV use.
Strengthened state laws, regulations, and enforcement capacity to deter illegal riding.
Consistent information regarding safe and environmentally responsible motorized trail recreation coordinated among land managers, local and state law enforcement agencies, dealers and manufacturers of motorized recreation vehicles, and the network of clubs and riders.
DCR recently developed standards for the siting of motorized trail recreation activities to guide agency decisions regarding this use on DCR lands. The Department’s Stewardship Council recognized the importance of enforcement when it directed DCR to develop an enforcement plan for OHV’s on Department property. Recognizing that OHV enforcement concerns exist throughout the Commonwealth, the OHV Enforcement Working Group is intended to advise both the agency and the Commonwealth in further actions related to OHV enforcement on both public and private lands.
Enforcement Working Group Tasks and Members
The enforcement of OHV laws and regulations is a complex issue involving multiple agencies and many stakeholders. Law enforcement agencies, public and private land managers, motorized recreation enthusiasts and environmental advocates all have an interest in the outcome and play a role in the effectiveness of current or future laws and regulations.
The following agencies, organizations and interests have been invited to participate in the working group:
Executive Office AgenciesExecutive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA)
Office of Environmental Law Enforcement (Environmental Police)
Department of Conservation and Recreation:
Department of Fish and Game
Department of Environmental Protection
Other Law EnforcementMassachusetts State Police
Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association
Other Land Management EntitiesMass Land Trust Coalition
The Trustees of Reservations
Massachusetts Audubon Society
Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions
Recreation Vehicle InterestsNational Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council
New England Trail Riders Association
Massachusetts ATV Association
Berkshire Trails Council
Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts
Other StakeholdersEnvironment Massachusetts
Consumer Product Safety Commission
DCR Stewardship Council
The Working Group plans to identify options and opportunities in four key areas:
Assess existing laws and regulations pertaining to the use and operation of recreation vehicles and identify opportunities and strategies to enhance their effectiveness for the protection of public safety, the environment, and public and private property
Review the current capacity of agencies charged with enforcing OHV laws and regulations and identify opportunities and financing strategies to increase the capacity of the enforcement system.
Identify short-term opportunities and strategies to reduce unsafe and inappropriate use of OHVs that are currently available under existing laws, regulations, enforcement capacity and funding mechanisms.
Identify opportunities to improve communication among stakeholders in order to increase safe, responsible and legal OHV use.
Schedule and Outcomes
The Off Highway Vehicle Enforcement Working Group is scheduled to meet four times between August 2007 and October 2007. Agency staff supporting the working group will prepare a report that captures recommendations and strategies that emerge from the process. The report shall include recommendations in each of the four key areas described above including legislative, budgetary and operational actions necessary to improve OHV safety and the protection of public and private lands from illegal OHV use. To maximize the opportunity for timely change, the report will be due by mid November, 2007.
Your suggestions are welcome
While every individual or organization who has an interest in this topic can't attend the working group meetings, the Department and the group are interested in your thoughts regarding OHV enforcement. You can follow the progress of the group at DCR's website at http://www.mass.gov/dcr/recreate/ohv/ohvworkgroup.htm. There you will find minutes of the working group meetings and other documents related to the process. You can share your ideas for OHV enforcement at email@example.com.
We are hopeful that this process will produce ideas for improving OHV enforcement in Massachusetts. We welcome your contributions to this exciting discussion and look forward to sharing our progress with you.