Committee Hears Testimony on Causer Snowmobile-ATV Funding Bill
HARRISBURG – Legislation to bring fairness and accountability to the collection and distribution of funds for ATV- and snowmobile-riding opportunities in the Commonwealth was the subject of a public hearing at the state Capitol on Wednesday, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint), prime sponsor of the measure.
House Bill 2047 would direct the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to maintain separate ATV management and snowmobile management accounts to ensure an equitable distribution of those funds.
“DCNR is currently unable to identify how much it spends on ATV trails versus snowmobile trails, but considering the number of trail miles on public lands for snowmobiles outnumbers those for ATVs by a 10-to-1 ratio, it sure looks as if there are some inequities,” Causer said.
He pointed to the situation in Cameron County, 60 percent of which is state forest land owned by the Commonwealth.
“People in Cameron County pay their ATV registration fees, yet there are absolutely no opportunities for them to ride on public lands in the county,” Causer said. “On more than 131,000 acres of forests, there is not one single trail on which people can legally ride their ATVs. It simply doesn’t make sense.”
Fred Brown of the Pennsylvania Off Highway Vehicle Association testified in support of the bill. “We believe it is only proper that a full accounting of the placement of ATV registration money be provided annually,” he said. “Our members pay into the fund. They are entitled to see what they get out of it.”
Liz Krug, president of the Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association, said her organization supports transparency in how funds are spent but raised some concern about how the funds could be divided when some trails are used by both ATVs and snowmobiles. “I would like to see the ATV and snowmobile groups work together to promote both sports,” she said. “Together we can develop trails that are cost-efficient and effectively managed.”
“After hearing the testimony, it is clear to me that DCNR needs to do a far better job of providing opportunities for both ATV and snowmobile riders,” Causer said. “Holding the agency accountable for how ATV and snowmobile funds are spent is an important step in the right direction.”
He is hopeful the bill will be taken up for a vote by the committee in the near future.