State coalition seeks rules for off-road vehicles

RENO " A coalition of various interest groups is seeking to establish rules governing off-road vehicles in Nevada.

Group members say irresponsible off-highway vehicle riders are tearing up Nevada's landscape and will force closure of public land to the popular sport if left unchecked.

The Nevada Responsible Trails Alliance plans to present recommendations Friday to the Nevada Legislative Committee on Public Lands in Elko.

The alliance representing sportsmen, conservationists, ranchers, law officers and others hopes to persuade the 2009 Legislature to pass legislation ending Nevada's status as the only Western state without a registration program for all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and similar machines.

Backers say such a change is needed if damaging off-highway activity is going to be controlled.

"We need badly to clean up the mess that a few people have caused," said Gene Kolkman, alliance director and a former Bureau of Land Management manager in Elko.

Besides requiring off-highway vehicle registration, the alliance seeks support for local, state and federal land management agencies to designate backcountry roads and trails.

It also favors additional protection for private lands and money to enforce off-road vehicle laws.

Increasing popularity of off-highway riding combined with Nevada's population growth is causing a host of problems, including damage to watersheds from the pioneering of new trails, disturbance of wildlife and mounting conflicts with sportsmen on foot, said Larry Johnson, president of the Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife.


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