Arizona considers restricting off-roaders

July 30, 2008 at 8:15 PM
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PHOENIX, July 30 (UPI) -- Officials in Arizona are considering whether to restrict or close a swath of state land to motorized vehicles as a way to improve air quality.

If the Arizona State Land Department decides to close the lands it would affect trails in Maricopa County and parts of Pinal County, which are both under a federal mandate to reduce particulate matter in the air.

Already, local officials have passed ordinances limiting off-road recreation in an attempt to reduce dust, the Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.

"Some of the agencies, you have to wonder if their motive is to eliminate OHVs (off-highway vehicles) and maybe not dust control," said Mike Fissel of Jeep Expeditions, which takes days-long sightseeing trips into the desert.

"People like myself, the only reason we get outdoors is that we do have the ability to hop in our Jeeps and enjoy what the state, nature and God has given us," Fissel told the newspaper. "Without it, we are basically stuck on the freeways."

One state official said a balance needs to be struck.

"We recognize that if all our lands were closed, that might be a problem," Deputy Land Commissioner Jamie Hogue said. "We have not come up with a final resolution."

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