OHV users speak out
Dear Editor:Ted Williams’ opinion piece in the June 2, 2007, Aspen Times Weekly (“Users getting ripped off by public lands fees”) requires a response. In his column he implies new recreation fees are a result of lobbying by the motorized recreation community.Actually, the motorized recreation community in Colorado is not only opposed to new fee areas, but they often coordinate with the anti-fee Western Slope No Fee Coalition. Williams and other “recreation purists” are so blinded by their anti-motorized bias that they can’t fathom why Colorado’s motorheads would oppose new fee areas. The reason is because OHV users are already paying a fee for using their vehicles in Colorado.The fee is in the form of a registration paid to the Colorado state Off-Highway Vehicle program. Combined with a portion of the gas tax OHV users pay, these funds are made available to federal land managers to maintain the roads and trails OHV users use. Unlike purists like Williams, who resent paying any fee whatsoever, Colorado’s OHV users have already paid, and we resent paying twice.Speaking from a national perspective, public opposition to fees is unusual. In many areas of the country, but especially as you move east, much of the public is accepting of fees for recreational areas. Sportsmen pay fees and even non-motorized users accept the idea. Indeed, the mountain bike community is currently discussing a variety of methods to assess fees from mountain bikers that will go to the land managers who manage their trails.The key to managing any successful fee program is well-known. The fees should stay where they are paid, and the people doing the paying should have a say in how the money is spent. Federal land managers should keep this in mind given the vitriol of purists like Williams. If Williams has a point, it’s not about the evil OHV people; it is about potential abuse of the fee program. In that regard, Williams and OHV’ers see eye-to-eye.Brian Hawthorne BlueRibbon CoalitionPocatello, Idaho
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