[Source: Joanna Dodder Nellans, Verde News, June 10, 2008] — The spectacular scenery and cool waters of the Upper Verde make it a magnet for an ever-increasing number of illegal ORV users who are destroying signs and then carving roads along its banks. Arizona Game and Fish Department estimates Arizona has experienced a 347% increase in ORV users in the last decade. Some have a huge attraction to driving through the water, evidenced by some of the illegal activities they post on Internet sites such as You Tube.
The state Senate Natural Resource Committee conducted a hearing this week about off-road vehicle issues. Despite all the increasing problems, the Legislature raided the remaining four months worth of money ($395,000) in the Game and Fish 2007-08 budget for ORV law enforcement and education. It also swept the Arizona State Parks fund for ORV education and grant money. And it’s highly likely this will happen again for the entire budget year that begins July 1, said Sen. Tom O’Halleran of Sedona, who opposes such budget raids.
The Prescott National Forest used one of the State Parks grants recently to replace vandalized signs in the Upper Verde area. The State Parks Ambassador Program is another victim of the budget cuts, said Jeff Gursh of the Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition. It trains ORV volunteers to monitor trails including one on the Prescott National Forest below Crown King. State Parks also provides educational brochures to ATV dealers out of the cut funds. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]