Nevada should end its status as the only Western state without a registration program for off-highway vehicles and should borrow ideas from a neighboring state in doing so, state lawmakers have been told.
"Folks, we've got to get it right this time," state Sen. Dean Rhoads, the Tuscarora Republican who heads a public lands study panel, said of a new registration measure likely to be considered by the 2009 Legislature.
Despite general support from off-highway enthusiasts and conservationists alike, the groups failed to agree on the specifics of a law during this year's legislative session, as well as in 2005 and 2003.
During a hearing Thursday, Rhoads' committee was told Nevada should model its registration law after a successful program being used in Idaho.
"The users have a consensus that this would work," said Gary Clinard of the Dunes and Trails ATV Club of Las Vegas. "I would certainly like to have this put to bed."
Based on Idaho's program, the proposal could have the Department
of Motor Vehicles issue titles for OHVs while another agency, possibly Nevada State Parks, oversee a program that would require owners to register their vehicles every two years for $25, said Leah Bradle of the Nevada Powersport Dealers Association.
Money raised through registration fees could help map OHV routes, pay for trail construction and maintenance and finance safety and education programs, Bradle said.
Dealers want a program in place to end a situation that has people driving across state lines to buy OHVs to avoid paying state sales tax. They are not assessed sales tax in neighboring states and because they don't have to register the machines in Nevada, they can avoid paying those taxes here as well.
The result, Bradle told lawmakers, is $34 million in annual lost sales to Nevada OHV dealers and $2.5 million in lost sales tax to Nevada annually.
Environmental groups support a registration program because it would require identification stickers that would help identify riders going off-trail and causing major resource damage to public lands.
"Habitat is what we're really talking about when we talk about off-highway vehicles and the damage that comes from their use," said John Hiatt, conservation chair of the Red Rock Audubon Society. "One thing I think we all can agree on is we need some kind of visible tag so we can identify someone ... who is improperly using these vehicles."
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)