by Erin Proctor, OHV Program Manager, Montana State Parks Division
Two bills, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Bullock during the last session, will help strengthen Montana’s OHV program. A stronger program can support more projects on the ground and in the classroom, enhancing your riding options and experiences.
House Bill 167, which will take effect on October 1, 2015, increases the non-resident temporary use permit fee and rescinds reciprocity to most states. This means more people will be required to purchase the permits. Idaho and North Dakota residents will receive reciprocity since they currently allow Montana residents to ride in their states without a permit or fee. The previous non-resident OHV temporary use permit fee was $5. The new $27 fee will be divided as follows: $15 will go into grants that fund OHV trail maintenance, $6 for OHV safety education, $1.50 into grants to help control noxious weeds, $1 to Search and Rescue, $2.50 to FWP Enforcement and $1 to the license agent.
Senate Bill 110 will become effective on January 1, 2016 and offers a temporary motor vehicle registration permit to non-resident OHV users. This bill benefits the program because it allows people from other states the opportunity, through registration, to ride their OHV’s on Montana roads as long as the OHV is street legal. This applies to those OHV’s that are either not registered in their home state as motor vehicles, or are only registered for off-road use. The registration fee will go to the motor vehicle electronic commerce operating account.
Plans to implement these bills are already underway. With an effective date of October 1st for non-residents OHV permits, there are just a few weeks to begin rolling out effective communication strategies that will inform our visiting OHV enthusiasts of the new requirements including non-resident hunters visiting Montana. Currently in motion are updates to two popular brochures: ‘Off Road Montana,’ which is a general summary of OHV laws and regulations and ‘Hunting and ATV’s,’ which discusses the ethics of hunting with your ATV. There will also be several projects designed to educate Fish, Wildlife and Parks employees, permit vendors, other agency partners (US Forest Service, BLM, etc.), non-resident hunters, and the general public. Also underway is a project to increase the number of vendors who sell non-resident temporary use permits throughout Montana and several select out of state areas in order to make them more easily accessible.
The (hopefully) million dollar question is…how many permits can we expect to sell to nonresidents visitors? I’m thinking we will all be pleasantly surprised, and am looking forward to enhancing our riding opportunities with you!