Bill seeks off-highway vehicle fee to fund restoration

An illegal trail created by off-highway vehicles scars the Desert Wells Multi-Use Area near Florence Junction in fall 2007. Officials say a trail blazed by one rider invariably attracts more riders, eventually compacting the soil and destroying plant life. A bipartisan group of lawmakers backed by a diverse coalition including conservationists and riders groups is advocating for a bill that would make owners of off-highway vehicles pay a registration fee that would be used for cleanup, education and enforcement. The bill also would clarify and toughen the definition of illegal off-highway vehicle use. Photo by Jonathan Cooper, Tucson Citizen.[Source: Daniel J. Quigley, Cronkite News Service] — Owners of off-highway vehicles would pay an annual $20-$25 registration fee under a bill that supporters say would help repair damaged landscapes, promote responsible riding, and cut down on dust.  It’s the second straight year Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale, has introduced a bill calling for an off-highway vehicle fee.  Last year’s failed by one vote in the Senate.

Weiers said this session’s version, HB 2573, stands a better chance because it has bipartisan support and the backing of groups representing riders, conservationists, vehicle dealers, and others.  It has nearly 40 sponsors and co-sponsors from both parties.  “Every year we wait damage is being done that’s going to take centuries to repair,” Weiers said.  “And we can’t afford, cannot afford, to keep putting this off.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]