Routt County considers allowing OHVs on short stretches of county road near Black Mountain | SteamboatToday.com
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Routt County considers allowing OHVs on short stretches of county road near Black Mountain

This group of OHV riders
file photo

If you go

What: Routt County commissioners consider opening portions of three roads to recreational off-highway vehicles

When: 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 23

Where: Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs

— Routt County commissioners are scheduled to consider collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service to allow broad recreational use of OHVs (off-highway vehicles) or ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) on three sections of remote county roads near Black Mountain to complement a series of routes in neighboring Moffat County.

Aaron Voos of the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest said Friday that there has been a collaborative effort between the Forest Service and OHV enthusiasts in Moffat County to create a network of looped routes with consistent regulations in the vicinity of Black Mountain near the Routt County border. The intent is to avoid encouraging OHV users to ride one stretch of trail and then making them stop and load their machines on trailers to get to the next section.

“I think this is an excellent approach with clear, consistent, enforceable regulations,” Voos said. “That makes a lot of sense.”



If you go

What: Routt County commissioners consider opening portions of three roads to recreational off-highway vehicles

When: 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 23



Where: Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs

It has become commonplace on Forest Service roads to see youngsters below the legal driving age operating OHVs, more commonly referred to as ATVs. The requirements in the Routt County resolution for the Black Mountain area require, among other things, that operators be 16 or older. But a Forest Service spokesman and county officials suggest enforcement will be minimal.

Routt County isn’t talking, at this point, about going as far as Moffat has, allowing OHV use on all county roads unless otherwise posted. Instead, Routt County is considering allowing OHVs on C.R. 1W, C.R. 82 and a portion of C.R. 80 within the National Forest to maximize the potential of the existing route along Forest Road 110.

The resolution, which will be considered by commissioners Tuesday, provides for signage denoting the beginning and end of the road segments that are open to recreational OHV use.

About six miles of Forest Road 110 is in Moffat and eight are in Routt, according to county documents.

The new regulations would not include snowmobiles and golf carts.

The resolution contains a set of regulations including a requirement that operators must be 16 years or older, possess a valid driver’s license and carry the minimum liability insurance coverage required by such law. The maximum speed limit is 35 miles per hour. Vehicles must have lighted headlamps and tail lamps.

The resolution recommends the use of helmets but does not require them. Nor do the regulations “prohibit the use of OHVs for agricultural purposes on any county road.”

County Manager Tom Sullivan said Friday that the insurance requirement is a deterrent to violating the regulations contained in the resolution.

“If there’s an accident involving someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license, there are liabilities and risk for the private parties,” he said.

The state requires that OHV owners register with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and conform to noise limits.

Voos said that the Forest Service policy is to tailor its OHV regulations on forest roads to state and local regulations in the area, so in the case of policy on OHVs, Forest Service regulations can vary from county to county and forest unit to unit.

Forest Service personnel traveling forest roads are most apt to keep an eye out to see that OHV riders have a current registration sticker and spark arrestors to guard against starting a wild fire, Voos said. But as a practical matter, they don’t have adequate human resources to enforce other OHV regulations.

Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins said it’s seldom that his deputies would find themselves in the vicinity of county roads 80 and 82, and if they did encounter an underage OHV operator, they might lean toward exercising the discretion they are allowed in all traffic stops.

“That’s so far out in the boondocks, it’s not a place we normally go and patrol,” he said. “For us to be up in that neck of the woods, we’d most typically have received some complaints.”

Wiggins said that if one of his deputies happened upon a 12-year-old operating an OHV and that was the youngster’s only violation – meaning the registration was current and carried liability insurance – a deputy might just issue a warning.

Ultimately, Wiggins said, it will be up to parents to assume a large part of the responsibility for observing OHV safety rules that prohibit underage drivers.

“Part of our message should be that parents should exercise caution and know the laws as they are,” Wiggins said. “Will they try and skirt it? You and I know they will. It’s unfortunate accidents happen. They’re sad. We see them every year.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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