QUC: Background Information

A conservation group, The Quiet Use Coalition, has been formed in the Upper Arkansas Valley in central Colorado. The Quiet Use Coalition is primarily concerned with addressing the rapidly expanding use of personal motorized recreational vehicles, such as ATV's, dirtbikes, snowmobiles and jetskis on national lands and waters.

Formation of the Quiet Use Coalition is in response to the organized efforts of a minority of public land users often subsidized by manufacturers of motorized PMRV's (many of them in foreign countries), to expand the presence of these vehicles to the far corners of our public lands. Trails and routes are being rapidly created by motorized PMRV users without the knowledge or approval of the respective public land management agencies.

The coalition is asking the US Forest Service and other government agencies to set aside ”quiet use areas” within the boundaries of National Forests, and on other national lands and waters. In limited cases, the designated quiet use areas would allow access by conventional 4x4 and other 4 wheel highway-licensed vehicles to specific points within those areas, beyond which only non- motorized activities would be allowed. In general, the proposed quiet areas would encompass specific watersheds or trails, and would comprise smaller zones than nationally designated wilderness areas.

The Quiet Use Coalition notes that many organizations exist to promote the interests of the various motorized vehicle users. With the financial and organizational backing of the motorized recreation industry, these groups have become very influential in lobbying for expanded motorized access to national lands and waters.

The Quiet Use Coalition does not seek to prohibit all motorized recreational activity on national lands and waters. Rather, the Coalition seeks to provide a voice for those who believe that reasonable limits on motorized activities should be established in order to protect wildlife habitat and to preserve natural areas for the quiet enjoyment of all. Ours is a vision in which people work together to protect small areas of the nations dwindling supply of wild lands, waters, open space and the plants and animals contained within these areas so as to pass them on for quiet multiple use to future generations as an environment undiminished by our presence in it.

The Coalition believes it is possible to address these issues in a constructive, responsible manner that is beneficial to both sides and to the community as a whole, both economically and environmentally.

Reduced budgets of land management agencies have made it impossible to enforce land use regulations and given outlaw motorized PMRV users a free hand to do whatever they want. This is outrageous in view of the fact that these users comprise such a small percentage of all public land users and that the vast majority of roads and trails are now open to motorized vehicles. According to the current Forest Plan (Section II-35), ORV use comprises only 8% of total recreational use on Pike/San Isabel National Forests.

Proposal Designations -- Wilderness and Non-Motorized Backcountry Recreation

Noise pollution is steadily increasing throughout our environment. Places of quiet are becoming more and more difficult to find in Colorado or throughout our country. Most Americans live in urban areas, places which are far from silent. Leaving urban areas to find peace and quiet is not easy and often requires traveling over long distances. Even the modes of travel used to get away from the din of urban areas are noisy in themselves. Highway traffic, commercial airlines, small planes, and trains all operate within environments having relatively high noise levels.

The places sought to escape noise: natural and undeveloped open spaces, have been recently invaded by an explosive growth of personal motorized recreational vehicles. The negative impacts of these machines take many forms including pulverization or compaction of plants and soil, soil erosion, weed dispersal, stream siltation, disturbance of wildlife, fragmentation of habitat, exhaust emissions, increased fire risk, increased road and trail maintenance, and the endangerment of other human users with excessive speed. But it is the noise generated by these machines that has come to symbolize all of the negative effects they produce and it is that impact which has rallied citizens to form the Quiet Use Coalition.