Fraser, Winter Park could say OK to OHVs
Side-by-sides, utility task vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles sit in many driveways and garages across the Fraser Valley, but when it comes time to enjoy the off-highway vehicles, users have to go elsewhere due to restrictions on town and county roads.
However, that may soon change with both Fraser and Winter Park considering allowing off-highway vehicles, or OHVs, on town roads.
At the Fraser Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, members discussed allowing certain OHVs on town roads and what requirements they would want to see.
“It would be neat to see (side-by-sides) around town,” Fraser Mayor Philip Vandernail said. “To me, regulating it and designating routes seems like a really good solution.”
Historically, the west side of Grand County has been more amiable to motorized recreation. In Kremmling, anyone over 10 years old can drive OHVs on town roads with supervision and there’s no requirement for insurance or a safety restraint.
Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs also allow OHVs on town roads, but have age restrictions and require a valid driver’s license. Hot Sulphur Springs requires registration and insurance as well.
State law restricts OHVs on all state roads and highways, so regardless of town laws, no OHVs are allowed on US Highway 40, except to cross the highway at a 90 degree angle.
Many trustees expressed a desire to include age restrictions, requirements for a license, insurance and registration, as well as a safety restraint.
“I like the idea of having licensed drivers with the parameters of having a seatbelt and headlights, brake lights,” said Trustee Katie Soles.
Zach Sawatsky, a Winter Park resident and OHV user, spoke at both meetings to advocate for allowing OHVs on town roads with restrictions. He noted that if the towns move forward with the changes, they’d be one of the biggest OHV friendly areas in the state and the only one with a ski resort.
“I think you’d be surprised how many people would drive these things around,” he said. “I’d love to have my friends from Denver come to Winter Park, park their truck and trailer at Murdochs, unload and be able to commute through towns in their side-by-side all week. That’s a really neat thing that no towns in Colorado really have.”
Trustee Ryan Barwick, who owns outfitting-guide Grand Adventures, which offers off-road side-by-side tours, attested to the safety of utility task vehicles and the many ways they can be enjoyed in the Fraser Valley.
“They have nets on the side so all limbs are enclosed. There’s seatbelts. It’s like driving a car, so it’s not like somebody is learning a snowmobile or dirt bike,” Barwick said. “In my experience, it’s the safest activity I offer.”
Winter Park’s Town Council also discussed changing its OHV laws to allow use on town roads at its workshop Tuesday afternoon.
Ultimately, both Fraser and Winter Park felt it would be best to move forward together with any changes to help eliminate confusion and make it easier for users to follow the rules. The first step will include some kind of community outreach to gauge support for allowing OHVs on town roads.
“I think we all want to regulate them or set a policy, but it seems like we need to get together with Winter Park and the county,” said Eileen Waldow, mayor pro-tem.
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the national Trout Unlimited group received the funding and to clarify exactly what the money will pay for.