Arizona legislators are considering a law that would require registration of off-road vehicles, which would come with an annual fee expected to be between $20 and $25 per vehicle.
House Bill 2573 would require registration of OHVs and ATVs in the state, and put 70 percent of the proceeds, estimated at $7.3 million a year, toward building, maintaining and closing trails, adding to law enforcement and educating riders on proper trail use. The bill is a response to the burgeoning use of ATVs and other OHVs — not always on established or legal trails — in the state in recent years. OHV sales in the state have seen a 347 percent increase over the last 10 years, according to motor vehicles division statistics.
Some officials fear that state and federal land management agencies will eliminate off-road sports entirely if nothing is done to curtail use in unauthorized areas.
"The problem is they don't have any idea where to go or not go," Jeff Gursh, a volunteer with the Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, told the Arizona Republic newspaper.
The state Senate's Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee rejected the bill on a tie, saying the state already gets $1 million a year from an off-road vehicle tax on gasoline sales. Sen. Jake Flake said that money goes to the state parks department, not trail issues.
But a striker amendment to another bill revived the OHV legislation. The new version, SB 1167, is under consideration by the Arizona House Rules Committee. If it passes that body, it will proceed to the floor of the Legislature. A similar bill last year died on the last day of the legislative session, failing by just one vote.
The bill would establish an Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Fund with 70 percent of the proceeds, and 30 percent would go to the existing Highway User Revenue Fund.
Arizona State Parks would get 60 percent of the Recreation Fund, the state Game & Fish Department would get 35 percent and the State Land Department would get 5 percent.
The new funding could be used to expand State Parks' pilot Ambassador Volunteer Program, which trains ATV users to patrol popular off-road areas to look for damage, report problems and promote responsible riding. So far that program is limited to just three Phoenix-area communities: Scottsdale, Lake Pleasant and Florence Junction.
More information about Arizona OHV legislation is available here.