The Utah State Legislature passed the Off-Highway Vehicle Act in 1971 which created the Division of Parks and Recreation’s Off-Highway Vehicle Program. Fifty years later, this OHV program remains strong and actively engaged in the OHV community.
In reaching this milestone, the Legislature passed a Joint Resolution commemorating 2021 as the Year of the Off-Highway Vehicle Program. The Legislature also recognized its purpose, which is to “promote safety and protection for persons, property, and the environment connected with the use and operation ... of off-highway vehicles, to promote uniformity of laws, to adopt and pursue a safety education program, and to develop trails and other facilities for the use of these vehicles.”
In those 50 years, the OHV program has “developed and coordinated over 80,000 miles of designated off-highway vehicle trails, educated over 250,000 youth and adults, and created and recommended local community off-highway vehicle trail connectivity.” The Legislature also recognized “the economic importance of off-highway vehicles as a sustainable form of outdoor recreation in Utah.”
They further acknowledged that “the Off-Highway Vehicle Program is vital to the success of our growing state and it is the responsibility of government agencies, the Legislature, and industry leaders to promote, practice, and educate others in responsible off-highway vehicle practices.” Additionally, “the health, education, and economic opportunities of Utah families are directly impacted by where they recreate.”
In 1971, OHVs consisted of Tote Gotes and Trail 90s. What a difference 50 years has made. I had been reporting the miles of trail as 75,000, now that number has grown to over 80,000.
These trails will take you through some of the most breathtaking sections of Utah’s beautiful backcountry. They will also give you a break from tight schedules and stress. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to get off the interstate highways to see what Utah has to offer, you haven’t seen Utah. I know hikers and bikers will agree — it is amazing country.
Regarding the “safety and protection of persons, property and the environment,” I have been through more than one ATV education program and I appreciate the value to young and old. My grandchildren are ready to produce their training certificates at a moment’s notice.
Respect for private property is taught in the ATV training program and in Utah’s ATV clubs. I was riding above Mantua on the trail over to Eden. I saw an ATV trail off the road that provides access to some church camps. It was near the junction and I took it. It wasn’t until I came out on the main trail that I saw the “No Trespassing” sign. I was able to make contact with the owner and apologize. We had a pleasant conversation and I directed people away from that trail on later rides.
We are also taught to leave gates the way we find them — open if they are open and closed when we find them that way. Often, a gate will have a sign that directs us to close the gate regardless of how we find it.
ATV riders are conservationists. We care about the areas in which we ride and want to protect our riding privileges. Finding out where trails lead to is a major reason we ride. It is not fun to ride where there are no trails and the people I ride with don’t. We also pick up trash on the trails we ride. I can’t speak for all riders because all outdoor user groups have some bad apples, but I ride with respect and expect all who ride with me to do the same.
I can’t say enough about the positive economic impact on the cities near the trails we ride. Finding a trail to ride, we stay in the nearest town in motels, buying gas and supplies, and eating in restaurants. Copies of my article on how an ATV trail benefits the local economy (Standard Examiner, Jan. 14, 2021) have been requested by more than one county in Utah and in Wyoming.
Money from the registration of almost 214,000 OHVs, including over 34,000 street-legal machines, went to counties in the form of grants to maintain and develop trails. Last year, that number totaled almost $849,000.
I have been riding ATVs for 29 years and writing these articles for over 15, and every year gets better. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and celebrate 50 years of OHVs in Utah.