GAO Report on OHV Recreation

| August 31, 2009 | 0 Comments

At the end of July, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on OHV recreation, prepared at the request of the House Natural Resources Committee, was released to the general public. GAO investigators interviewed agency personnel, OHV rider and industry representatives and environmental group representatives. GAO issued a number of findings in terms of OHV recreation on public lands, but frankly, none of the findings were a surprise to us.

GAO found that OHV recreation is growing in popularity and that more Americans are seeking access to federal public lands via their OHVs. Second, the report found that the federal land agencies could do a better job of providing signage and general outreach to the recreating public so that visitors to public lands have a better understanding of where they can and cannot ride their OHVs. The report also focused attention on the inadequacies of law enforcement and the inconsistent scale of fines and penalties for inappropriate behavior on public lands. GAO found that the land agencies were stretched, both in terms of financial resources and personnel, and that other pressing concerns, such as fighting wildfires, apprehending drug criminals and border control issues kept agency personnel from devoting the necessary time to make public lands more accessible to recreation visitors.

GAO looked into the issue of environmental damage caused by OHVs and found such damage is far less than some observers believed to be the case. Another finding was that agency personnel work well with OHV user groups on trail maintenance projects.

The report’s conclusions confirm what we have known for a long time about OHV recreation on public lands and provide further reason to continue working on our priority issues. ARRA intends to carry on our efforts to support law enforcement reform legislation as well as seek additional funding for better signage, maps and trail maintenance. Working with the Congress and our land agencies, we can create an environment where OHV recreation can continue to grow in popularity as more American families look to explore and enjoy the great outdoors.

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Category: Access Issues, Midwest - Access Issues, Northeast - Access Issues, Southeast - Access Issues, Southwest - Access Issues

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