|ATV riders enjoy riding roads designated as open on Bureau of Land Mangement land.|
The Emery County Public Lands subcommittee on safety recently concluded their study of the ordinance which would allow OHV travel on county roads. Committee chairman Ray Petersen explained that the process to arrive at this point has included many hours of study and thought into the state ordinance and what affects its adoption would have on the safety of those who use county roads.
As the current state statute is written, cities may regulate the use of OHVs on their streets to allow access to open public lands or trails. At this point, no county roads are open to OHV use. Therefore, any ordinance which has been adopted by any city in Emery County that allows riders of OHVs to access open roads and trails, is in effect, useless. The results are that there are no roads in any cities which are legal to ride with OHVs, under state statute.
"We do not write the laws, we only enforce," said Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon. "Many residents of Emery County are operating under the misconception that because their city has an OHV ordinance, that they can ride their machines all over town. This is not true.
"Due to the fact that the state law says that cities may adopt an ordinance to allow OHV use, that use must be to access open public lands or trails. There are no county roads open now, and there are no routes within the cities which access open public land. This means anyone who operates an OHV on city streets is in violation of the state law," said Sheriff Guymon. "It is our duty to enforce those laws, and we will."
With consideration for opening county roads to OHV use, safety is the number one issue. Every road in the county road system was scrutinized and ranked for its safety. All but three roads were agreed upon as open or closed by the committee. Those three roads are Bott Lane from Castle Dale to Orangeville, the Buckhorn Draw road, and Ferron Canyon road from Ferron City limits to the forest service boundary. The reasons the safety committee has for not recommending the of opening of these three roads are the high volume of full sized vehicle travel on a daily basis and the speeds at which these vehicles travel. The findings of this committee have been forwarded on to the county commissioners.
Before an ordinance can be adopted by Emery County, a public hearing must be held to gather public comment. The public hearing on this issue will be held during the commission meeting on April 5, at 5:30 p.m. For any county resident who wishes to make comment, a copy of the ordinance and maps of the county road system will be available in the public lands office or the clerks office in the county building in Castle Dale. The material is also available on the county website, www.emerycounty.com.
"One thing I would like to see the public understand about this ordinance, if it is adopted, is that there are restrictions for the use of OHVs on city streets. Children under the age of 8 years old are not allowed to operate an OHV. Children from 8-16 are required to have the card that they received when they completed the OHV safety training. They must also wear a helmet and be in direct supervision of an adult," added Sheriff Guymon. "Many parents assume that if a child has been through the training, that child can legally ride. They can ride, but, only if the parent is present," stated Sheriff Guymon.
Another item discussed by the committee was the cities which have an ordinance in place at the present time to allow OHV use within their city limits. Most of the cities are in violation of their own ordinance because the ordinance requires signing and mapping of the designated routes. There are no cities in Emery County which are in total compliance with the state statute. The bottom line is that only legal, designated routes and riding areas may be accessed in those cities, and there are no county roads designated as open until an ordinance is adopted.