TPWD News Release — Jan. 30, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas — As directed by a new state law, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is starting a new Texas Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Program that requires people who buy a vehicle sold for off road use on public land in Texas to buy an annual decal. Decal sales revenue will fund grants to create or improve motor vehicle parks in Texas.
Decals are not required for OHV use on private lands.
For the first year of the program, the OHV decal will cost $8 and will be current from Jan. 1-Aug. 31, 2006. After the first year, OHV decals will be good from Sep. 1 through the following Aug. 31, matching the TPWD fiscal year.
OHV decals are now available for sale, and game wardens will begin enforcing the new rules. A person caught riding on public land without a decal could be issued a citation and fined.
Decals can be purchased over the phone with a credit card by calling (512) 389-8917. Eventually, decals may be sold over the Internet and at some OHV parks and dealerships.
The 78th Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 155 several years ago, which closed all navigable stream beds in Texas, except for some parts of the Canadian and Red Rivers, to motorized recreational vehicles. That law also directed TPWD to “facilitate development of sites for motor vehicle recreation other than protected freshwater areas.”
The more recent 79th Texas Legislature in 2005 enacted Senate Bill 1311, which created the new OHV decal and program administered by the department.
The department administers another grant program that can fund off-highway vehicle projects. The National Recreational Trails Fund (NRTF) is an 80-20 matching grant that requires recipients to provide an amount equal to 20 percent of the federal grant. Funds come from a portion of the federal gas tax generated by gasoline purchases to utilize off-road recreational vehicles, such as off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. A federal requirement is that 30 percent of the funds be spent on motorized recreational trail projects, 30 percent on non-motorized trail projects, with the remaining 40 percent discretionary.
“There is a growing demand for OHV recreation areas in Texas, and most off-road enthusiasts will tell you there are too few places for people to ride,” said Steve Thompson with the TPWD Recreational Grants Branch in Austin.
“Our agency has been directed by the legislature to provide more OHV opportunities. We want to do that in ways that are safe and environmentally sustainable and that maintain good relations with neighbors and local communities.”
The Barnwell Mountain Recreational Area in Northeast Texas is one example of an OHV venue. The Texas Motorized Trails Coalition has operated the 1,800-acre site in Upshur County since 2000. Facilities include showers, restrooms, an air station, pavilion, office and campsites with R/V hookups and electricity. News articles have quoted local officials in nearby Gilmer praising the operation as safe and positive in bringing economic development to the area.
Relatively few public parks or public lands in Texas currently allow OHV recreation. The department is compiling a list of public parks or land where OHV recreation is legal. Shown below, the list currently stands at 16 locations, but it is expected to change as TPWD gets new information. This list of OHV legal sites is in draft form. The list is expected to be complete later this month will eventually be published on the department Web site.
Eisenhower State Park north of Dallas is the only state park that offers OHV recreation, but only in a 10-acre Mini Bike Park within the state park. TPWD wildlife management areas are not open to recreational trail riding; however, ATV use by people with disabilities who have an official placard or license plate is allowed for them to travel to and from hunting or fishing locations in WMAs.
Goals of the new OHV program are to establish and maintain a public system of trails and other recreational areas for off-highway vehicles, improve existing trails and other recreational areas and foster responsible use of off-highway vehicles.
The legislation defines “off-highway vehicle” as either (1) an all-terrain vehicle, as defined by Section 663.001 of the Transportation Code; (2) an off-highway motorcycle; or (3) any other four-wheel drive vehicle not registered to be driven on a highway.
The new decal is required for any OHV operating in Texas on public land or on land purchased with grant funding from TPWD.
Montgomery/Walker & Grimes Counties:
Fabens/El Paso County:
Trophy Club/Denton County:
Big Spring/Howard County:
San Angelo/Tom Green County:
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area/Alibates National Monument/Moore & Potter Counties:
Navigable Rivers: (ATV’s, Motorcycles, Full Size OHV’s, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails).