The 2007 Colorado legislature passed two bills that have a direct impact on snowmobiling in the state. Both bills had the input and backing of the Colorado Snowmobile Association.
Senate Bill 08-063 replaced existing off-highway vehicle and snowmobile sound standards law that was cumbersome and practically unenforceable with a statewide SAE international standard. For snowmobiles manufactured on or after July 1, 1972, but prior to July 2, 1975, that standard is 90 db(A) and for snowmobiles manufactured on or after July 2, 1975, the standard is 88 db(A). The bill exempts closed-circuit racing and vehicles used in emergencies for search and rescue.
The bill imposes a penalty of up to $100. The significant part of the bill is the use of the SAE J2567 stationary sound test. This sound test is easier to administer in the field and more reliable for true sound emissions. The snowmobile portion of the bill closely mirrors the sound bill passed in Wisconsin in 2005.
The Colorado Snowmobile Association and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition understands the wisdom of policing our own activities. Because sound emissions have always been an easy fallback position for detractors to take, this was a simple means to enforce appropriate sound levels so all can enjoy the backcountry. The standards set forth in the bill completely align with the manufacturers’ EPA enforced limits. The bill, then, only penalizes those riders who can’t leave well enough alone and create sound emissions greater than nwecessary when modifying their machines.
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association had input into the writing of the bill to ensure the bill was as unrestrictive as possible and did not interfere with the riding pleasure of at least 90 percent of Colorado’s winter recreationists. The law will become effective on July 1, 2010, allowing for education and preliminary testing.
The second bill, HB 08-1069, gives Colorado peace officers the authority to enforce off-highway vehicle violations on federal public land and will provide penalties for these violations. Although this bill was originated by the Colorado Division of Wildlife as a result of field reports of violations, particularly during hunting seasons and in wetland areas, the bill gained the support of the motorized community as the draft progressed.
The motorized community, both summer and winter, recognized that the increased presence of law enforcement will benefit the law-abiding recreationists riding public lands by catching the violators and, hopefully, disallowing a broad brush inference that all off-highway recreationists can’t follow the rules.
The violations will be determined by adequate notification of legal routes, either by on-the-ground signage or adequate maps as prescribed by the travel management plans of the public land agencies. Penalties are $100 for violations on public land, $200 for violations in designated Wilderness and, when appropriate, loss of preference points on hunting licenses.