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Colorado Acts on ATV Problem

March 18, 2008.

From the Colorado Division of Wildlife:

Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) officers will now be enforcing motorized vehicle regulations on federal public lands as specified in Colorado House Bill 1069.

This bill, introduced in January of this year, was signed by Gov. Bill Ritter on March 20.

The measure specifies that DOW officers along with other state law enforcement officers will now be able to enforce motorized vehicle restrictions on public lands. Officers can now issue tickets in the field to those who violate motorized vehicle laws.   

“Our officers will certainly use substantial discretion during the early stages in carrying out this enforcement. It’s going to take some time to get signs in place and for people to have access to updated maps and information,” said Rob Firth, Chief of Law Enforcement for the Colorado DOW. “We recognize that motorized vehicles have a substantial role in enhancing outdoor recreation in many areas of the state. This legislation gives us the ability to act when it comes to the most blatant violators such as when sensitive habitat is harmed or when hunters or outdoor enthusiasts have their activities interfered with by those who knowingly violate the regulations in place.”

Enforcement will be incidental, as the DOW will not be adding any new officers or resources to specifically enforce this regulation. DOW officers will issue citations in conjunction with carrying out their current duties.

Penalties established for those who violate these regulations include a misdemeanor charge and a fine of $100.  If the violation occurs while a person is hunting, fishing or trapping, 10 suspension points would also be assessed against their hunting/fishing privileges.

A person who commits a violation in a federal wilderness area would be charged with a misdemeanor and face a stiffer penalty, including a $200 fine and 15 license suspension points.

Anyone caught removing, destroying or defacing any sign related to motorized vehicle regulations will be charged with a misdemeanor and face a $100 fine.  A penalty of 5 suspension points would be assessed to their hunting or fishing license.   

All fines can be sent through the mail, and no court appearance is necessary unless otherwise requested by the defendant.

Ranchers, law enforcement officers and others with the authorization to operate a motor vehicle on federal public land are exempt from these regulations.       

“This bill is the result of many people coming together in an effort to preserve public lands in Colorado. It addresses the growing problem of unauthorized motor vehicle use in prohibited areas and we look forward to assisting federal agencies in enforcement on public lands," said Tom Remington, Director of the Division of Wildlife.

Supporters of this bill include: State Representative Kathleen Curry (D-Gunnison) who sponsored the bill in the house, State Senator Lois Tochtrop (D-Thornton) who sponsored the bill in the senate, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the Colorado Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, the Colorado Mountain Club, Colorado Counties Inc., the Colorado Bow Hunters Association, and other local and national organizations.

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