OHVs present a slate of issues in Marble area

In approximately 40 days, Marble and the surrounding backcountry will begin its descent into a throbbing congested hellscape of internal combustion engines. Last summer we saw an unprecedented number of visitors and an exponential increase of OHVs. This traffic is unmanaged and unregulated. There are no bathroom facilities and the headwaters of the Crystal River continue to be fouled with toilet paper and human waste. If immediate action is not taken, an environmental and human safety crisis is imminent.

We have been imploring our elected officials to take action for years. A county road OHV ban is not a radical idea. It follows the same model that Aspen successfully implemented a few years ago, and is the only viable option until the Forest Service can put together a permit system.

Gunnison County has the authority to reinstate this ban immediately, but apparently the town and the county have concerns about possible repercussions. These concerns should be clearly defined and directly addressed, not dismissed with vague generalities and false narratives. Affected residents should be allowed to contribute to the discussion, not shut out of private meetings and work sessions. If business interests are to be considered, so too should the property devaluation of homeowners who live on the front line. And when our representatives present arguments based on incorrect information, they need to be called out.

We are potentially facing another summer of extreme drought conditions. Considering that one very popular OHV manufacturer recently recalled hundreds of thousands of their vehicles due to fire hazards (yet these machines continue to burst into flames even after the recalls), the fear of forest fires is real. Fire extinguishers, spark arrestors and low-emission, low decibel exhaust systems should be mandatory on all OHVs traveling in the National Forest, but until there is sufficient enforcement, a ban is essential.

The wilderness belongs to all of us. So why won’t our elected officials take a meaningful step toward protecting it?

Please ask them.

Teri Havens