Budget amendment doesnÂ’t allow for new or expanded facilities
ATV and off-road enthusiasts in Washington State won’t be seeing any new trails or facilities for at least a year.
State lawmakers made a late amendment to the budget bill that, according to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), leaves no chance for public input or debate.
According to the AMA, even though the state will continue to collect fees and taxes from trail users, the Department of Natural Resources will receive no funding to build or expand off-road trails.
In the section of the budget that provides funding for the Department of Natural Resources recreation renovations, those lawmakers inserted language that reads:
“The department shall not plan for, or construct, new or expanded facilities or trails for off-road vehicles for recreation on state lands until after June 30, 2009, unless the project is already funded, has been considered as part of a landscape-level plan for recreation that has completed State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review, which included public participation, and is the best alternative to protect environmental or trust resources and public safety from immediate risk.”
AMA western states representative Nick Haris called out the lawmakers on the late addition to the budget bill.
“It’s hard to say which is more outrageous: the way this language was inserted in the bill in the dark of night, or the fact that the state of Washington plans to keep taking gasoline tax money and registration fees from off-road vehicle users—money that is supposed to be used to create off-road recreation opportunities—while giving the ORV community nothing in return for at least an entire year,” says Haris.
The proposed state budget, which covers the period from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, was approved by the full legislature on March 13 and is currently on the desk of governor Christine Gregoire.
Contained in a single paragraph on page 75 of a 129-page bill, the ban was added by a six-member conference committee.
“These legislators owe the OHV community an explanation for why this language was added to the bill with no opportunity for public comment,” says Haris. “Additionally, the AMA calls on governor Gregoire to use her line-item veto to remove this unfair amendment from the budget bill.”