Colorado: OHV Funds At Risk

Colorado: OHV Funds At Risk


What follows are letters from two Colorado Organizations regarding the idea of the Colorado State Parks being able to use OHV Registration money to help with the State Parks deficit.

The first letter is from Bryan Martin, of the Colorado Mountain Club.

The second is from Greg Labbe, of the Responsible Recreation Foundation (The foundation that supports Stay The Trail)

We'll let the letters speak for themselves will not provide editorial content. To learn more about the status of this situation, visit the COHVCO site.

From Bryan Martin:

"Dear Committee Members,

We encourage the JBC to use Colorado State Parks OHV Registration money to bridge the huge funding gap that exists at Colorado State Parks. As you know, State Parks took a $2.6 million general fund cut to their program.  Colorado's State Parks are critical to our state's citizens and help support a $10 billion tourism economy. Over 13 million people visited State Parks in 2008. As the recession lags on and as Coloradans plan their summer, more and more individual will look to State Parks for affordable vacation opportunities and even "staycations" nearer to home. Ensuring that every picnic grove, cabin, boat ramp, and trail remain open will be critical to keep Colorado's tourism economy strong.

We feel that OHV dollars should be used in the most responsible and economically prudent way possible and therefore we support the funds being used to bridge the State Parks funding gap to help keep State Parks around Colorado open for the general public during this time of budget hardship.

Moreover, we feel these funds have been grossly misused to date, funding new construction for an ever-expanding network of roads and trails on our federal public lands and elsewhere. At the very least, these funds should be considered "impact fees" and be put toward mitigation measures to keep our public lands quiet and healthy for the enjoyment of the vast majority of public land users - hikers, bikers, anglers, climbers, and mountaineers.

Moving forward, we feel that before the use of the fund be reinstated to the OHV program that a massive OHV Program overhaul should take place to ensure that these “state funds” are used more responsibly by the State Parks board, and trails committees as they dispense them in grant form.

Clean air, clean water, and quiet walks in the woods on our public lands are the touchstones of our quality of life in Colorado. Colorado's State Parks have protected AND promoted these assets for 50 years. There's an opportunity to fully fund the Parks - let's take advantage of it.

Kind regards,

Bryan Martin

Assistant Director of Conservation

The Colorado Mountain Club"


From Greg Labbe:

"Dear Partners in Public Lands Stewardship,

Recently a letter was sent to the Colorado Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee by Bryan Martin of The Colorado Mountain Club.  Please find that letter attached.  The Responsible Recreation Foundation, as a synergistic partner in the care and management of our public lands, strongly objects to the inaccuracy, tone, and intent of this letter.  We further believe that the Colorado Mountain Club, through Mr. Martin, has undermined the good will, positive relationships and trust of the many partners who strive to help manage our public lands in a responsible manner.

Mr. Martin, in referring to the OHV Registration Program, speaks of funds being “grossly misused” and “funding new construction for an ever-expanding network of roads and trails”.  As you know, OHV road and trail opportunities in Colorado have been significantly reduced over the years.  Starting with the Wilderness Act of 1964, almost 3.5 million acres, 16% of public lands in Colorado, were removed as either OHV or mechanized opportunities.  In just the past two decades almost every Travel Management Plan, Forest Plan, and Recreation Management Plan has reduced the miles of motorized trails and roads.  The trend continues in the latest Gunnison and White River National Forest proposed TMPs.

Mr. Martin refers to the OHV Registration funds as “state funds”, but ignores the fact that the program is a legislatively mandated program allowing the OHV community to self-fund the care of their public lands recreation opportunities.  He goes on to refer to “hikers, bikers, anglers, climbers and mountaineers” as the “vast majority” of public land users, when as a simple point of fact, there were about 110K parks passes sold last year compared to about 130K OHV registrations.

The OHV Registration Program has been a positive force for management of public lands in Colorado.  In addition to the many seasonal trails crews who maintain these trails for motorized and non-motorized users alike, there are many extraordinary initiatives and projects, many of which we have worked together to develop, and that we should take enormous pride in.

Among those are education and ethics programs, embodied by the Stay The Trail trailer, signage grants that work towards keeping all users on the appropriate trails, sound testing to help educate our public on the importance of proper sound levels, and the Colorado Trail Patrol, established to be an additional resource of information for our land management agencies.  Additionally, we have collaborated on the ability of our land managers to have enforcement capability in the field. All of this hard work and synergistic good will has been put in doubt by one mean-spirited letter.

The Responsible Recreation Foundation believes that it is the obligation of the Colorado Mountain Club to repair the harm and restore the positive relationships and trust engendered in this working collaboration of these public lands enthusiasts.  We ask that the Colorado Mountain Club issue a statement of support for the OHV Registration Program and send that statement to the members of the Joint Budget Committee and to any other organizations or legislators to whom they sent their original letter.


Greg Labbe, Director

Responsible Recreation Foundation

on behalf of the Board of Directors "