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County continues ATV ordinance discussion

Lake County’s Board of Commissioners continued its discussions of a proposed ATV ordinance during their Tuesday, June 17, work session.

Rob Thornton, a proponent of the ordinance, attended the meeting to continue the discussion with the board.  A central component of the meeting included the Town of Lakeview’s recent passage of a similar ordinance.

The ordinance’s primary benefits include encouraged tourism and increased economic development within the communities of Lake County.

Thornton brought forward a request for access to three east-west and north-south routes under such an ordinance, rather than an all-encompassing approach to the entire county’s road inventory.

Thornton noted he is aware of the opposition to the proposed ordinance in the North Lake County area, and said he’s looking to address the south end of the county as a starting point.

The routes requested would provide access to surrounding forests as well as the Town of Lakeview and Urban Growth Boundary area.

Regarding the county’s concerns of liability, Thornton said the ordinance amply covers this topic and he feels visibility in most areas is plenty ample for ATV riders.

The County had previously indicated a desire to wait for the Town to take action before acting on the issue.

Commissioner Dan Shoun agreed that the proposal would be beneficial to the local economy, but said the county’s concern is with public safety.  He posed a question of how to give the ordinance enough ‘teeth’ so that citizens would be protected beyond the benefit of the economic advantages afforded.

Thornton said that he recognized the risk imposed by reckless riders, which is why a driver’s license requirement is an integral part of the ordinance.

Commissioner Brad Winters reported supportive feedback from Modoc County’s supervisors, and asked Thornton if he’s aware of any similar action underway in California.  He reported that an action underway by their park and recreation department is currently in the infancy stages.

Regarding public safety issues, Thornton said that Oregon State Police is comfortable with the ordinance as long as riders follow the rules that law enforcement must enforce.

Lake County Roadmaster Rick DuMilieu’s concerns related to periods of high use and activity, citing the Barry Point fire of 2012 as an example, and related truck traffic.

Thornton said most ATV’s operational speed is up to about 45 miles per hour.

Other points of discussion included ensuring the public is aware of designated open ATV routes.

Thornton said maps would be distributed with GPS points detailing the routes, along with the suggestion of informational kiosks.

Winters said the county would examine the Town’s recently-passed ordinance in developing a draft specific to the county’s jurisdiction.

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