OHV Groups Criticize Federal Study

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An ongoing Washington study ignores the OHV route designation processes now taking place, and will therefore be biased, the MIC says.

According to the council, nine off-highway vehicle groups banded together last week to send a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stating that its study on OHV use is flawed in such a way that any findings will be skewed against OHV use on federal lands.

The council claims a principal component of the study is a survey of federal land managers to discover the amount of OHV use and the potential impacts on the environment, human health and safety. The survey also asks the managers how they are managing OHV use and enforcing regulations.

The OHV group’s letter claims that the survey questions ignore ongoing efforts by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to designate which trails are open for motorized use. (For details on these efforts, see a special report Dealernews published last summer.) The letter also says that most of the questions are ambiguous and allow for only responses that will overstate problems and downplay successes in OHV management.

The MIC quotes Larry Smith, executive director of Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, as saying, “OHV enthusiasts, the industry and, of course, the Forest Service and BLM have dedicated immeasurable effort and resources to designating routes that are open for motorized use. Any study that disregards those efforts is simply not credible. If GAO hopes to perform a legitimate study that truly examines OHV use on federal lands, it needs to scrap its current survey and develop a new one that not only is far less subjective, but also considers ongoing management activities.”