Off-highway vehicle bill passes Arizona Senate, goes to Governor

[Source: Arizona Game & Fish Department, June 24, 2008] — Long-awaited legislation that will help better manage off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation and protect wildlife habitat passed the Arizona Senate yesterday and has been sent to the Governor.  Senate Bill 1167, also known as the “Off-Highway Vehicle Bill,” passed the Senate by a vote of 16-7, with 7 members not voting.  The bill has been transmitted to Gov. Janet Napolitano and awaits her signature.  SB 1167 will provide long-overdue resources to better manage issues created by the dramatic increase in OHV use in Arizona (347 percent in the last decade). Irresponsible riding has damaged habitat and created the potential for closures of some areas.

With the passage of SB 1167, revenue raised through an estimated $20 annual user fee (exact amount to be determined through a public rule making process) on off-highway vehicles will help provide funding for additional law enforcement, trail/facility maintenance and reconstruction, rider education and information (including identification of lawful places for operators to ride), and mitigation of resource damage from OHVs.  This “user play, user pay” approach is similar to that used by hunters and anglers, where sportsmen pay license fees to support their hunting and fishing opportunities and benefits.  In this case, OHV users will pay the annual user fee to support the sustainable management of their recreational opportunities and resource protection.  “We’re thrilled to see this legislation pass,” said Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Bill McLean.  “Balancing the protection of wildlife habitat with opportunities for responsible OHV recreation has been a priority of the Game and Fish Commission.  We worked hard on this bill with sponsor Rep. Jerry Weiers and the coalition of supporters, and we’re looking forward to its implementation.”

“This was drastically needed to keep up with the explosive growth of OHV use in our state,” said Mike Senn, assistant director for field operations for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  “It provides beefed-up tools—information/education efforts on responsible riding, trail development and habitat mitigation, new laws to address irresponsible riding, and seven new OHV law enforcement officers — to better manage OHV recreation and protect wildlife habitat.”

The bill passed through the Arizona House of Representatives in April by a vote of 42-13.  Key supporters in the Legislature were Rep. Jerry Weiers (R-District 10) and Sen. Linda Gray (R-District 12).  The bill was supported by a diverse coalition of organizations, including the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, Responsible Trails America (Arizona Chapter), Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife, Arizona Power Sports Industry Association, Wildlife Conservation Council, Apache County ATV Roughriders, Sierra Club (Grand Canyon Chapter), Arizona Motor Sports Association, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Drew and the Crew Motor Sports, National Rifle Association, Arizona Council of Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Sonoran Institute, Arizona State Parks, and Arizona State Land Department, among others.  When signed by the Governor, the OHV bill would become law on Jan. 1, 2009.

Main Street Award nominations due Aug. 8

The Arizona Department of Commerce is now accepting nominations for the 2008 Arizona Main Street Awards presented at the Governor’s Rural and Regional Development Conference.  It will be held September 24-26 at the Carefree Resort.  The communities of Carefree and Cave Creek are our hosts. 

The purpose of the Awards is to recognize outstanding projects, activities, and individuals in Arizona’s Main Street communities (often funded with support from the Arizona Heritage Fund).  Nominations are for activities/projects that have been completed between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2008.  The deadline for nominations is August 8.  Click here for award categories and the nomination form.

Arizona state legislative update (Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club)

The Arizona State Senate passed a budget early on the morning of June 26 and the House passed the same budget that night.  It is on its way to the Governor.  Considering they are making up a nearly $2 billion shortfall, it could have been a lot worse — although most environmental programs are already underfunded.  The Legislature cannot get the votes to really increase revenues substantially, so cuts, fund transfers, bonding, and rollovers are the focus. 

The Arizona State Parks system is hit hard again with over $7.4 million in fund transfers; at the Department of Water Resources, the Arizona Water Protection Fund dollars were rolled back again; and the Department of Environmental Quality had $8.6 million in fund transfers.

The Governor and Legislature did not hit the Heritage Fund, however.  These dollars are critical to parks and wildlife and are inadequate as is.  Please thank the Governor and legislators for keeping the Heritage Fund intact.

  • You can reach the Governor at  Or, call 602-542-4331 or outside the Phoenix area 1-800-253-0883.  You can also write to: The Honorable Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona, 1700 W. Washington, 9th Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85007 or by fax at 602-542-1381.
  • To contact your state legislators, go to  If you are not sure who your legislators are, go to (you will need your 9-digit zip code) or call the House or Senate information desks.  If you’re outside the Phoenix area, call your legislators’ offices at 1-800-352-8404; in the Phoenix area call 602-926-3559 (Senate) or 602-926-4221 (House).  Correspondence goes to 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890.

Applications for State Trails System due July 1

This image was taken along the South Fork Trail, in the Chiricahua Wilderness and won 1st Place recognition in the category of Arizona State Parks or State Trail System Trails.Help spread the word about the Arizona State Trails System.  The Arizona State Trails System has been established to recognize and promote non-motorized trails that are of special interest or significance to both Arizona’s residents and visitors.  Trails offer a wide variety of recreation opportunities.  The System currently contains over 600 trails.  Trails must also be in the State Trails System to be eligible for Trails Heritage Fund Grants.

Applications for the Arizona State Trails System are due on Tuesday, July 1.  The nomination form is available online.  For more information on the State Trails System, contact: Annie McVay, State Trails Coordinator, Arizona State Parks at 602-542-7116 or via e-mail.  For more information on Trail Grants contact, Robert Baldwin, Recreational Trails Grant Coordinator, at 602-542-7130 or via e-mail.