TRENTON � The state would have to find sites for the legal operation of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles under terms of a bill approved today by the Senate.
Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) is the sponsor of a bill (S-1059) that would require the Commissioner of Environmental Protection to designate three sites within New Jersey for use by all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles. The sites would be located in the northern, central and southern parts of the state and would be made available for the use of ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles.
�My bill would establish a process for locating and making available three such sites on public lands,� Sen. Turner said. �The only public park available for these vehicles was closed last year. ATV and snowmobile riders have been trying for several years to have the state designate a site for recreational use ATVs and other off-road vehicles because private sites have liability concerns.�
The bill was amended by the Senate Environment committee last month to encourage the DEP to look at all types of state-owned lands in addition to state parks and forests to site the riding facilities. These could include abandoned quarries, rights-of-way or other suitable lands the state could purchase for this purpose. It was approved 35-2 by the full Senate.
The DEP commissioner would have to survey all of the state�s parks, forests and other lands to determine the best locations for off-road vehicle riding. Among the considerations would be the impacts on wildlife, natural resources, water quality, public safety and the potential impact on other recreational activities.
�If for some reason the commissioner is unable to designate three sites for ATV use within the state�s parks and forests, the commissioner will be required to submit a report to the Legislature and the Governor explaining their reasons,� Sen. Turner said.
The bill now moves to the Assembly for consideration.