NV BHA Opposes AB 293: OHV Overhaul

AB 293 makes numerous negative changes to Nevada's off-highway vehicle registration system, including limiting law enforcement, exempting many types of vehicles and reducing the size of the registration plate. BHA strongly opposes this legislation. Recent testimony is below.

To: Nevada Commission on Off-highway Vehicles

From: Karen Boeger, Board member, NV Chapter, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Re: NCOHV Meeting 3/21/13 and AB 293

March 20, 2013

Dear Commissioners,

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is a national non-profit conservation organization of outdoor enthusiasts who prize the tradition, challenge and solitude of America's backcountry. We believe the backcountry is the most valuable and healthy wildlife habitat, thus also the best hunter/angler habitat.

NV BHA Board members participated in the many years of contentious deliberations it took to finally come to a consensus with all stakeholders and get the OHV registration bill passed.

NV BHA has a vested interest in the deliberations of the OHV Commission – you represent our many members who have ATVs. They use them to access the boundaries of our unroaded wildlands to recreate in a traditional non-motor-focus fashion. Yet our recreation is impacted by irresponsible and even illegal ORV use. Key wildlife habitat often suffers damage from the same irresponsible use.

Our primary concerns have been for a highly visible ID on the vehicles and memorandums of understanding for enforcement between all entities: state, county and federal. These 2 factors would be the most effective in reducing the problems and conflicts our members experience on our public lands.

I am writing to express concern about item # 16 on your agenda for tomorrow re: the registration decal and several proposed changes to the OHV registration bill as currently proposed in AB 293, as follows:

Sec. 2 , #1: Makes registration a secondary offense, disallowing an officer from stopping a vehicle for non-compliance. This essentially takes all teeth out of the mandate to register vehicles.

Sec. 2, #2: Allows non-compliant people to potentially evade compliance until stopped for some other reason (as, according to #1, they cannot be stopped for non-compliance) and then be given registration application documents. This will not be effective in assuring that people take the registration of their OHV vehicles seriously, as currently we all do for any other vehicle.

Sec 4, #1: The proposal that all vehicles 500 cc power and below can be exempted from regulation is unacceptable. It is our understanding that the intent was to exclude mini-bikes. It's also ourunderstanding that such vehicles are usually under 100 cc in power . Any higher degree of power enables a vehicle to do significant land damage if operated irresponsibly. Part of the reason for registration was to provide some $$ for restoration of land damage. This provision as written, isFARtoo lenient. Even children need to understand the responsibility that goes with operating a motorvehicle and that all such vehicles, even mini-bikes, can do damage if not operated responsibly.

Sec. 2, #3 & 4, Sec. 3, #1 & 2: the provisions of Sec. 2, #1&2 require all these subsequent very complicated provisions related to registration applications given in the field, how to track them, follow-up compliance, issue receipts, etc. We question the cost and effectiveness of these provisions.

Sec. 5: Strips authority from any federal officer to stop non-compliant persons in the field. The state does not have the “manpower” or funds to be the sole enforcement presence on public lands. Because the public lands in Nevada are so vast and lack of enforcement manpower of any kind has always been an issue for both the state and feds, the intent of the registration legislation was that all entities with LEOs in the field (primarily public land) would have MOUs to share enforcement capability. This is done in several other western states. As written, this provision would eliminate that sensible approach.

Sec. 6, #3 c: Question: does this mean that any person can buy and register an OHV in another state, keep it in NV and never have to register it here, leaving only NV registrants to foot the bill for OHV opportunities and/or redress of damages?

Sec. 6, #4: registration every 3 years is very bad idea. The purpose of the yearly low registration fee in the OHV registration bill was that it not be a burden, yet be able to cover the cost of the program and begin to form a fund. Spread over 3 years, that fee would come to less than $10. No one is going to take registration seriously at that amount, the costs of the program would not be able to be sustained, nor would a fund be accruing.

Sec. 7, #2 (and item # 16 on the NCOHV agenda): This provision makes no mention of the size of the ID on the sticker. This is the single most important item to our members. All parties involved in the legislation worked long and hard to come to agreement on this issue. The intent of the motorcycle plate size sticker was not the size of the sticker itself, but the size of the ID. The size of the ID must be, at a minimum, the size of the ID on a motorcycle plate. Further, this should be written in the legislation and not at the discretion of the NCOHV as proposed by agenda item 16.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. I regret I will not be able to attend your meeting tomorrow as I will be in Boise, but I will look forward to the minutes of your proceedings.

About Caitlin Thompson

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