County funds denied for Douglas ATV jamboree
Despite the promise of added revenues for Douglas County coffers, commissioners decided $47,000 in public funds was too much to spend for an all-terrain vehicle jamboree.
Douglas officials were asked to jump-start the event by providing funds, Bureau of Land Management permits and some of the environmental work needed for designated routes.
“Once the money is spent, we’d have to recoup it through future events. That’s risky,” said commissioner Jim Baushke. “I’d like to see if we couldn’t get more private and commercial contributions. We have a lot of things on our plate that need fixing. I can’t support this.”
Skip Sayre, executive director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the one-time investment would provide more tourism, boosting room and sales taxes in Douglas County.
“Special events are a competitive environment, and it’s difficult to find an event that’s unique,” he said.
“This is an opportunity that could provide us with a competitive advantage, with respect to tourism.”
Citing environmental issues, Douglas County resident Jim Slade spoke against hosting the event.
“It’s optimistic to think this is a clean sport, and I object to use of public funds for a private event that would most likely tear up the wilderness,” he said. “We like to think of our county as rural, but in reality, we’re becoming an urban county due to uncontrolled growth. This type of activity is more appropriate in a rural county.”
Robert Ballou, retired executive director of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, said residents could love our land to death by attracting more tourists.
“At some point, perhaps beyond this administration’s tenure, the damage done to the area will outweigh any economic gains projected by the sponsors,” he said.
The Pine Nut Mountains are being significantly degraded by the increase in population and ATV use, but this event could impose a level of control, said commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen.
“The Pine Nuts are a good multi-use area, and they’re being overrun,” he said. “I’m not sure I want one more person to discover Douglas County, but if we don’t create a self-policing environment, we will never win this battle.”
A similar event staged in Utah since 1993 now draws ATV riders all summer. About 65,000 riders used the event’s trail system in summer 2002, generating more than $65 million for the local economy, according to a study by the U.S. Forest Service.