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May 2013

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Spring is here and our State legislature is still in session … and while we could be concerned in this issue about current events and asking for help protecting our funds from yet a third sweep (that's "theft" in non-PC layperson's terms) … we’re instead going to focus on what didn’t happen during this session, and why. WOHVA spends a lot of energy working to assure good laws for OHV use are put in place and this issue will be about a proposed law that was NOT going to be good … and what we then had to do about it.

On a much different note we'll also give a brief update on our new website and membership plan. Providing club members with free membership is the change … our goal is all about connecting with our constituents, even if we have to endure a dunk in the technology tank to get there.

So that's our message … to stay connected with you our members and "customers". Drop the hammer, fan the clutch, and hang on tight … here we go.

ATV Road Use Legislation – What happened to HB1632?"

In the beginning there was a goal, to increase forest access by allowing OHV road use in limited circumstances.

You may remember from our last newsletter we gave ourselves a "C-" grade for the results of our efforts to enable more ATVs to use Washington roads to promote forest access. Our goal was similar to the successful work we had already sponsored for dirt bikes, to allow ATVs with some street legal equipment installed the ability to drive on certain roads to both connect trails to make loops as well as to access parking, gas and supplies.

The good news is there are already 13 jurisdictions in Washington taking advantage of current enabling legislation to permit OHV road use (Summary of Eastern WA Local Jurisdiction OHV/ORV Ordinances). This proves YOU CAN GET OHV ROAD ACCESS RIGHT NOW WITHOUT NEW LEGISLATION. The progressive actions of these local leaders have opened recreational access to hundreds of miles of roads and many forests. The bad news is that this new effort to expand that access (HB1632) was joined by anti-OHV forces and they poisoned the work.

As originally proposed, WOHVA supported the goal of ATV (and all OHV) road use to improve forest access. But the original legislation was changed in several ways and eventually those changes drove WOHVA to remove our support and then fight to have this bad legislation defeated. Here are several reasons why we opposed it.
  • We agree that there are many reasonable rules and regulations (yeah, we mostly agree with that). And we believe that fines can be useful to change behaviors. But $500 fines for inconsequential infractions as minor as improper parking and then not applying these fines to non-OHV users in the general public is not just inequitable, it’s blatantly biased. Worse, these violations can be based on the accusations of untrained members of the general public … and then cause enforcement personnel to spend (waste) their time chasing down these accusations. This could go to a very dark place and could potentially misdirect the very enforcement staff funded to reduce infractions in the first place. Oh and if you’re the target of an inappropriate accusation, you still have to go to court to prove your innocence for each violation.
  • And then there’s the issue of identification. HB1632 included the requirement to have license plates placed on not just those ATVs using roads for access, but ALL ATVs. License plates for street use makes sense and is already a requirement for dirt bikes used on the street … but the assumption here is that identification will curb infractions. Nice try … but the idea of larger tags and plates on OHVs has already been tested in Utah AND FOUND TO HAVE NO IMPACT on the level of infractions. Read a copy of the Utah experience with ATV licensing here. Oh, but it did cost the user community more to implement it … with no return on that investment. Having larger identifiers did nothing to curb violations in the same way that having all hikers wearing large hunting tags would not reduce trail litter or off trail damages. You can assume all you want, that doesn't make it true.
  • And finally, HB1632 still wouldn't in itself permit ATV road use, the local governing agencies still have to approve that use. If the problem isn't with the state but rather the local forces unwilling to promote access, this bill would not help.
  • And that means we’re back at square one … poor ATV access to our forests … that's a "C-" result, or worse. But it's now worse because a lot of energy has been wasted and many legislators have been confused by the misrepresentations of this law and WOHVA's goals and beliefs. We're sorry it ended this way, but we've placed ORV road use at the top of our 2014 legislative agenda. ATVs/UTVs and 4x4s all still need the ability to use roads for loops and service access. We'll be working to meet those needs … as well as working on a few other things.
New WOHVA Website — Promoting Free Memberships for Club Members

We told you in our last newsletter about our work to create a new free associate member category in WOHVA. This would allow WOHVA member clubs, organizations, and businesses to give their own members free memberships in WOHVA. To make this happen we found we needed to change our membership software, and that meant changing our website.

We're just about done with putting that new website in place. We're targeting June 1st as our cutover date to our new website and more importantly our new membership system. We'll be contacting member clubs with more details about how to enroll their members … but it's coming! Oh, and we’ll pick up a lot of other nice features with our new site … we'll keep you posted as we figure them out and pass on the benefits to you!

And that's it for another newsletter. As always, please let us know what you think of these, what you want to see in them, and more importantly how WOHVA should be spending our time. If this isn't ENOUGH information, remember you can follow us on our Facebook page and read about updates on other topics more frequently. We're here to serve you … don't be shy about letting us know! Send your thoughts to communication@wohva.org and then go change that dirty air filter and go ride!


WOHVA AT YOUR GROUP – Interested in having a WOHVA representative attend one of your club or business meetings? Or maybe you have a ride or event coming up? Send an e-mail to info@WOHVA.org Please include date, location, and a point of contact!

MAILING LIST – To get on our mailing list, join WOHVA at www.WOHVA.org or join a WOHVA member club or organization.

WHERE TO RIDE – Looking for new places to ride in Washington State? Check out our WOHVA Where To Ride website for the latest info on areas, roads, trails, or MX Parks near you!

Got CLOUT? – Email clout@getclout.org for more information on how to have a direct impact on events in Olympia.

WOHVA IS YOU – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – See something here that interests you? Did we strike a resonant chord? WOHVA is 100% volunteer and your efforts make a big difference. Please send an e-mail to info@WOHVA.org to let us know how you’d like to help.

Thank you,