OHV Plated Registration

SSORA recently sent out a request related to the Nevada Revised Statute Chapter 490 amendments that proposes a revision to require “plated”/ registered street legal vehicles to require a OHV sticker to operate on OHV designated routes. This is part of our effort to eliminate the cumbersome registration process through the Department of Motor Vehicles and require a universal OHV Sticker for off-road use in the State fo Nevada – also ending reciprocity.

We have received some feedback on the proposal and have had extensive discussion with the OHV Commission, including at the public meetings held May 13th and June 10th. Here is some back ground and excerpts of discussions we have had with members of the “plated” community and our answers to those questions. We hope this discussion provides clarification some of concerns and highlights why we believe this is a good solution to the current issues facing registration and the needs of the OHV Community as a whole.

Legislative Background and Requirements (Super Boring but Informative)

First, if you are not already aware, if your “off-highway vehicle” is not or cannot be registered as street legal through NRS Chapter 482 you must register it as an OHV. As specified by NRS 490.060:

“Off-highway vehicle” defined.

 

  1. “Off-highway vehicle” means a motor vehicle that is designed primarily for off-highway and all-terrain use. The term includes, but is not limited to:
    • An all-terrain vehicle, including, without limitation, a large all-terrain vehicle without regard to whether that large all-terrain vehicle is registered by the Department in accordance with NRS 490.0825 as a motor vehicle intended to be operated upon the highways of this State;
    • An all-terrain motorcycle;

© A dune buggy;

  • A snowmobile; and
  • Any motor vehicle used on public lands for the purpose of

There are certain exempted groups that do not require registration, among the relevant ones are: 1. OHVs used by governmental agencies, utilities and those used in search and rescue; 2. OHV dealers with a special dealer plate; 3. Ranchers who only used the OHV on private land or lease holdings; 4. The OHV “is operated solely in an organized race, festival or other [sanctioned] event” i.e., races and permitted events; and, 5. Out-of-state OHV’s who are in Nevada for less than 15 days (reciprocity). “Large all-terrain vehicles” are also regulated somewhat differently with alternative registration and the payment of the OHV registration fee, but only on certain “county roads” and designated routes.

Again, at this point street legal vehicles are not required to register their vehicles as an OHV whether or not they use it for that purpose on OHV designated routes or areas. This is likewise true of “dual-sported” dirt bikes. Of critical note in this regard is that there are no monetary sources, like a gas tax, which contribute to the OHV Commission, the Grant Program or the maintenance of OHV routes in Nevada. All the money for trail establishment, signage, maintenance and capital improvements must come from OHV funds, RTP grants when available and/or private money. Additionally, because they do not contribute to the OHV fund there is not seat on the OHV Commission for street legal 4-wheel vehicles or off- road race groups despite their undeniable interest in the off-road routes.

Our Rationale:

First, a couple positives we envision in removing exemptions for plated and competition vehicles:

  1. Increased revenue for the OHV fund which is specifically dedicated to the operation of the OHV Commission and Grants – statutorily protected for those purposes. NRS 490.069 which provides for the following uses:

© Any money in the Account that is not used pursuant to paragraph (a) or (b) each fiscal year may be used by the Commission to award grants as provided in NRS 490.068 for projects relating to:

  1. Studies or planning for trails and facilities for use by owners and operators of off-highway vehicles. Money received pursuant to this subparagraph may be used to prepare environmental assessments and environmental impact studies that are required pursuant to 42 S.C. §§ 4321 et seq.
  2. The mapping and signing of those trails and
  3. The acquisition of land for those trails and
  4. The enhancement or maintenance, or both, of those trails and facilities.
  5. The construction of those trails and
  6. The restoration of areas that have been damaged by the use of off-highway
  7. The construction of trail features and features ancillary to a trail including, without limitation, a trailhead or a parking area near a trailhead, which minimize impacts to environmentally sensitive areas or important wildlife habitat
  8. Safety training and education relating to the use of off-highway vehicles.
  9. Efforts to improve compliance with and enforcement of the requirements relating to off-highway vehicles.

Amending and expanding the use of the OHV funds – such as for Search and Rescue and competition/play park work arounds for sensitive/protected areas – is a related discussion set for another day.

In short, the OHV fund is a pot of money that can be accessed and utilized by user groups and enthusiasts for establishment, signage, maintenance as well as capital improvements on OHV routes. Prison Hill in Carson City is a perfect example along with the good works of Reno Area Dirtbike Riders on Peavine Mountain.

  1. A seat on the OHV table for the street legal and competition communities. They should have a voice. With that said there is no appetite for a seat with no financial commitment to the OHV fund given they asked for and were granted

 

  1. Eliminate the “Free Rider” issue. A perfect example of this is the improvements currently being done on Peavine Mountain by the Reno Area Dirt Bike Riders (RAD) with an OHV Under the current scheme I can take my street legal KTM 500 up there and ride and tear up the good work of RAD without paying a dime to the effort. Likewise, California riders roll over the hill from Truckee – and regularly do – having no vested interest in those improvements.

 

  1. Promote involvement in the OHV mission of responsible use and stewardship. If people are paying – even a nominal yearly fee of approximately $25.00 – they are more likely to be involved.

 

  1. Beer and pizza A joking riff on the first point, but SSORA wants to drive it home. These are YOUR public lands and YOUR OHV dollars. Use them. Look at applying for a OHV Grant – even if your group is small and ill- equipped. One thing you do know is the lay of the land in your respective stomping grounds and what needs to get done. We have the expertise and the equipment to pair you with in order to make that project happen whether it be smoothing out the whoops or creating proper drainage so the trail doesn’t get washed out every year. Think of the possibilities of actually using that small contribution into the OHV fund for an amazing project of your design and choosing. You may not have the administrative expertise and knowhow or even want up a shovel, but you can point to with your non-beer hand to where that switchback needs some TLC.

Discussion:

Plated OHV Enthusiast:

How much for a use decal.

SSORA:

We are currently discussing a yearly fee of $25, with a three-year discount at $60. Currently, the NRS provides for a fee of $20-$30.

Plated OHV Enthusiast: 

I am opposed to requiring licensed vehicles to purchase any sort of additional permit to drive on public land. Many of the roads I use are over 150 year old pioneer and miner trails. Also, I am not happy when portions of historic trails are absorbed into Wilderness areas without providing a corridor for those of us that are not Sierra Clubbers.

In talking with the plated OHV owners, there will be almost total resistance to the requirement to purchase a sticker to go on these trails that they have always been able to traverse.

SSORA:

 First, what does past mining, pioneer, and ag use have to do with current recreational demands that are far outstripping the original use?

Second, the OHV sticker would NOT be required for street-legal vehicles on established State and County roads, dirt or not. Nothing would change for existing OHV users as defined above We envision the sticker requirement for plated vehicles to apply to OHV designated routes, trails and areas.  This is where it gets a bit convoluted and is going to require some further development  since there really isn’t an “official network” in the Silver State. BLM, and to a lesser extent FS, are currently pushing for a comprehensive travel management plan in Nevada. The OHV Commission has been “mapping” OHV routes through Great Basin Institute for a few years now. The end plan is to have a comprehensive network of recognized OHV routes and areas – with proper trail heads  and facilities – in the State of Nevada. Those type of areas, which are yet to be defined, are where the sticker would be required for street legal vehicles regardless of your intended reason for being there or mode of mechanized transportation. H3 “grocery getters” owned by your local soccer mom that never see a dirt road need not bother. Again, nothing would change for the dirt bike, ATV or UTV.

Plated OHV Enthusiast:

When and where is the levy charged? Who is going to enforce the use sticker?

SSORA:

Stickers will be available online as well as at your local 4×4, ATV/SxS and motorcycle retailer as well as potentially at certain other outlets for easy access.

Enforcement would be in the field by State and Federal authorities. Same as now. You are on an OHV route, have a sticker. We are sure there will be many who will refuse, won’t know or will “forget” – much like it is now with approximately 30% compliance. We are hoping with education and dollars going back to trail establishment, improvement and maintenance people will see the value in the sticker. Especially, if the money is going to the local club for land stewardship. We are also hoping to get better buy in from the younger folks if they see an advantage to joining a legacy clubs with the knowledge and expertise – and resources – to make a difference.

Plated OHV Enthusiast:

 Are the trail maintenance funds allocated for keeping the trails more or less as they’ve been for the past century or so, for grading them to allow less capable vehicles to negotiate the entire length of the trail or repair damage done by SxS and other high performance vehicles? If one group “improves” a road by stacking rocks and logs to make a challenging section easier, is the next group obliged to demolish the “improvements” or just accept it as the price to pay for the wide ranging diversity of off roaders? Will the Off Road Permit Police be stationed at end of the asphalt or on patrol throughout the thousands of miles of public land trails in Nevada?

SSORA:

This is a much larger issue that will have its own blog, but here is our initial response: Trail establishment and maintenance will be project specific and largely depend on the route and area. Perhaps it will be tightening up the “drive arounds” and putting in a drainage cut out as well as signage/obstacles to avoid 100’ wide mud bogs. It could be tightening up single-track switchbacks for motos. It could be putting in a trail head with bathroom, picnic and primitive camping facilities. Blading dirt superhighways is not among anyone’s priorities in the OHV community as far as I know, and that is where we want to put the power. With that said improvements and maintenance will be regulated by the land managers and grant

parameters. Luckily, we have many opportunities and some open minds as to what is possible. You should see what the mountain bike community is doing throughout the State with the blessing of the local communities, land owners and managers.

Plated OHV Enthusiast:

So, I ask myself, why can I drive my Jeep on the Rubicon, Fordyce, Deer Valley and other trails in California with no need to purchase a sticker? These trails, although open to all OHV types, are primarily used by street-legal (plated, as you call them) 4 wheel drive vehicles.

The answer is that the Majority Funding for the California program (Oh, no, the dreaded CA OHV program, which includes representation for the street-legal vehicles) comes from a small percentage of the state tax on gasoline deemed to be consumed off the public highways. Most state OHV programs are funded in this fashion. Fuel used for other off road uses, such as farming and construction, gives a tax break (or can be purchased tax-free) to the consumer, so there is similarity in not charging gas tax on fuel used off the public roads.

SSORA: 

I will process the California model and see what the appetite is for adding an additional gas tax or re-appropriating funds from existing allocations. I am not saying it is impossible, but I am not sure we will find a bill sponsor with an appetite for that proposal any time soon.

As a follow up in that discussion the following questions and issues were asked of this contributor:

  1. “Only asking for a small percentage of the gas tax to be diverted to the NCOHV fund.” From where and who is going to support that legislation?
  2. Why should a general gas tax go to pay for OHV trail establishment, improvements and maintenance when only a tiny percentage of gas purchasers actually use OHV trails?
  3. Final Point: Your street registration pays for the maintenance of public roadways as well as a myriad of other unrelated government projects. It does not pay for OHV use. Please understand we are not suggesting an OHV sticker being necessary for State and County roads, dirt or not, only OHV designated

Plated OHV Enthusiast:

 The California 4Wheel Drive Association has worked for over 60 years to assure access to the very trails that you state you state that we don’t want to protect, establish or maintain (yes, in Nevada, too). Jeep clubs have done countless cleanups on trails and have been involved in land use issues that have preserved access to trails (again, yes, in Nevada). N4WDA was designed to continue these tasks and relieve the CA Association of these responsibilities, which we have been doing for the last seven years.

Additionally, C4WDA originated the Adopt-a-Trail program , which is recognized by most national forests. Unfortunately, BLM, at least in NV has not shown interest in clubs adopting trails but encourage us to adopt a spot, those primarily being shooting areas.

I think you are badly mistaken when you talk about what plated vehicle clubs do or have done. If it weren’t for the past efforts of these groups (and the AMA) there might not be any ohv trails and no ATVs due to no place to use them.

SSORA:

We fully appreciate the hard work and dedication of these legacy groups and know we stand on the shoulders of those that came before us.

Our questions – and most importantly proposed solutions – surround how all of us in the OHV Community are supporting sustainable and responsible OHV use in the State of Nevada under the current and future regulatory environments. My understanding was there were over 7,000 off-road enthusiasts at Moon Rocks during Memorial Day. That is bigger than one user group and must be looked at before we are locked out or draconian measures put in place.

We understand street legal OHV wants a seat at the OHV Commission table to contribute its experience and expertise. We want you to have a seat, but there is no appetite to add that seat without a financial commitment to the fund. The question always arises: How do plated OHV users contribute financially to the OHV Commission and the Grant Program? That answer is you don’t and that is why no seat was created under NRS 490 when the legislation was originally passed in 2011. That needs to change and we are here to support that change.

Finally, SSORA believes there is a better way to increase participation in the process of protecting access and promoting responsible use and stewardship? We believe that through private/public partnerships, lead by those who know and use the land, we can make it better for all outdoor enthusiasts.

These are just a few of the questions and answers that have been swirling about related to these changes. Please feel free to contribute your opinion. Without it we cannot develop good policy to the benefit of all OHV users in the Silver State. We need to make this work given the other pressures currently being exerted upon our public lands and policy makers by better funded and organized recreation groups. Notwithstanding some disagreements in policy and approach if we in the OHV Community are divided we will lose access and other freedoms we have been so lucky to enjoy.

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