Washington county repeals challenged ATV ordinances

Publish Date: 
Mar 10, 2014

TWISP, Wash. - The Okanogan County Commission has averted a court hearing challenging two ATV access ordinances by repealing the laws that opened hundreds of miles of county roads to ATVs, in some cases conflicting with a new state law.

Conservation and citizen groups sued the county in August to challenge the ordinances, saying the county had not done sufficient study about the environmental and safety impacts of the ordinances. A hearing was scheduled for March 11.

They were also controversial because they were passed the day after a state law took effect to restrict ATVs to roads with speed limits of 35 mph or lower.

The two ordinances granted ATV access on different sets of roads, with the first ordinance opening 635 miles of roads, some with speed limits up to 50 mph, to ATVs. The second ordinance, passed four days later, opened all county roads with a 35 mph speed limit to ATVs.

A new ordinance, signed March 4 and effective immediately, states that one of the previous ordinances “suffers from minor procedural deficiencies that need to be remedied prior to its implementation.”

Okanogan County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Stephen Bozarth told the Methow Valley News the county will “fix the procedural problems” and put any future ATV access proposal through an environmental review. The review would come under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which includes a public hearing.

Posted by Holly Wagner