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ATV Adventures: 2018 law provides money for OHV programs

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 26, 2021

Lynn Blamires, Special to the Standard-Examiner

This picture was taken on Buckmaster Road where Highway 24 comes to a T with I-70. The Buckmaster Road goes north from I-70. This is a trail project where the NUATV club worked with the BLM in signing trails that branched off from the road.

2018 changed the financial picture for programs in the OHV community. Prior to then, OHV registration money stayed in the county in which the OHV was registered. With the vast majority of OHV owners being in the most populated counties, the vast majority of ATV trails exist in the least populated counties. With few trails to maintain, the highly populated counties used the money for other projects.

With the passage of HB 143, a restricted fund was set up that created a grant program. Funds from OHV registrations are now available to those sparsely populated counties who want to attract tourist dollars but haven’t had the funding to maintain the trails tourists want to ride. Through the Fiscal Incentive Grant (FIG) program, money is now available to fund projects that didn’t exist before.

At the inception, grants could only be applied for annually, now the process is open quarterly. The next grant application period opens Dec. 1 and will remain open until Jan. 15, 2022 when grants will be awarded. The next grant period begins March 1 and ends April 15, 2022

I am writing about this because we now have money to fund OHV projects and I am finding that it is not well known nor is it well understood. Those who can apply for a grant cover a broad spectrum. It is open to city, county and federal agencies — as well as nonprofit organizations. So an ATV club with a 501(c)(3) status can apply for a grant as long as the purpose is ATV related.

Grant monies cover six categories:

  • Trail work which may include development and maintenance of trails, trailhead facilities, the purchase and/or lease of equipment, and the purchase of land for trails and trailheads.
  • Protecting access to trails.
  • Search and rescue goods and services for the purpose of providing effective response to OHV-related incidents.
  • Tourism, such as the promotion and administration of OHV-related events.
  • Educational programs that promote safety, courtesy and resource conservation related to OHV trails (including non-law enforcement trail safety and trail-use monitoring patrol programs).
  • Other ATV-related projects that promote safety and protection for persons, property and the environment connected with the use, operation and equipment of off-highway vehicles.

The FIG program receives about $3,500,000 per year to fund these programs.

The money comes from 155,255 off-road registrations and 34,277 street-legal registrations. The amount of money received from street-legal registrations is about double what is received from an off-road registration. 131 grants have been awarded for a total of $2,940,000.

Here are some examples of grants that have been awarded:

  • $28,000 for a UTV ambulance to Ephraim for medical emergencies on the Arapeen Trail System.
  • $38,000 for a UTV to Iron County Search and Rescue for incidents in the mountains above Cedar City.
  • $113,000 for a Trailcat to maintain the miles of trail in Garfield County.
  • $103,000 for a Bobcat to work on Garfield County trailheads and other trail maintenance.
  • $35,000 for trailhead improvement at Justensen Flats in the San Rafael Swell.
  • $11,400 to the Utah ATV Association for an enclosed trailer wrapped to promote the Ride for Life.
  • $5,000 for the installment of three aluminum picnic tables on the Paiute ATV Trail System.

There is a 25% match for these funds, but this requirement is easy to meet. Your volunteer work on a trail project, for example, contributes to that requirement at a rate of $28.54 per hour. The equipment used also qualifies for that requirement. Counties can use their equipment and the part of an employees pay that doesn’t include benefits.

There is plenty of money available for off-road projects. I am finding that many of those eligible to apply for these grants are not aware of the program. I am also learning that counties would like to have a relationship with the off-highway community because they are the ones riding the trails. Our activity on those trails helps keep them open. We can be the eyes and ears of the county road departments on trail conditions.

Go to stateparks.utah.gov, click on Resources, then Grants to learn more about the FIG program. When you ride the trails, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and take this article to your county road department and see how you can work together to protect our trails.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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