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November 14, 2013

The Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) Report


Friends Network facilitators are working with a Friends group in California, ParkWatch.org, to develop an Online parks-reporting system for parks in the Commonwealth. Visit ParkWatch.org to see what is possible for our parks. You can be a part of this effort to bring consistent reporting, monitoring and and better enforcement to your park. To find out more, please contact FriendsParkWatch.

View the updated Massachusetts Environmental Police OHV Pamphlet

Help Distribute the Massachusetts Off-Highway Vehicle Handbook

Massachusetts Off-Highway Vehicle Laws and Safe Operating Procedures for OHVs cover

Help get the word out! The Mass Environmental Police (MEP) have produced an excellent booklet, The Handbook of Massachusetts Off-Highway Vehicle Laws and Safe Operating Procedures for OHVs.

Hard copies of the Handbook are available for distribution by contacting OHV.SafetyCourse@Massmail.State.MA.US.

Please help the MEP distribute the Handbooks by placing them at your local parks, libraries, police stations, schools, pediatricians' offices and other areas where safety information is made available to the public. Foldout pamphlets are available for the asking as well. The more people are aware of the new laws, the better for our forests, park lands and all visitors. Thanks for your help!

The Handbook of Massachusetts Off-Highway Vehicle Laws and Safe Operating Procedures for OHVs











Be part of the solution—demand a comprehensive OHV regulations enforcement and management plan

Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations Enforcement and Management Plan Recommendations

The Friends Network submitted recommendations for a statewide comprehensive enforcement and management plan to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs in March 2011.

The Massachusetts Forest and Park Friends Network believes in bringing people together to find solutions to problems affecting MA forests and parks. We know legislation alone will not solve the problems surrounding the OHV issue—that will take both sides working together.

The Friends Network Recommendations for a Statewide Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations Enforcement and Management Plan contains information collected over the past three years from Massachusetts stakeholders and public officials, past agency and committee documents, and what seems to work in other states. Legislators, enforcement officers, state officials and stakeholders need to work together in developing a comprehensive enforcement and management plan based on two principles:

(1) We need to stop Illegal OHV riding
(2) We need to find sustainable riding areas for OHV recreation

It is up to all of us to see that these state agencies fill their mandate to complete an OHV Enforcement and Management Plan. If you agree to those two principles and would like to be involved in the effort to see an OHV Regulations Enforcement and Management Plan for Massachusetts contact friend@networkingfriends.net

Massachusetts OHV information

Massachusetts Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Committee - Friends groups granted seat on the Council by Chapter 202 of the Acts of 2010

OHV Related Injuries in Massachusetts 2012- MA Department of Pulbic Health

Mass Environmental Police OHV Statistics 2012

Friends Network OHV Initiative 2008

What can you do about Illegal OHV use?

    • Report suspiciousness OHV activity
    • It is okay to remain anonymous when you report and incident. But be sure to record when you called, the name of the responding officer and what action was taken. Tell us what happened: email Friends Network.
    • Be safe. Do not let OHV riders see you call
    • Call local police-keep the number with you at all times
    • Call local land manager or land management office.
    • Call the Environmental Police - (508) 366-6537 or (508) 366-6420. Environmental Police Officers are responsible for enforcing laws and regulations regarding hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, and ATVs.
    • Call Park Rangers every time! 1-866-PK-WATCH (866-759-2824) DCR Rangers answer the hot-line 24/7. The dispatcher will contact the appropriate agency AND keep a record of every call, which will help in enforcement planning.
    • Organize people in your community to hold public meetings with town, state and environmental police.
    • Consider a fundraising effort to purchase ATVs for local police
    • Distribute the OHV.SafetyCourse@Massmail.State.MA.US

Where to ride?

Massachusetts currently allows OHV riding in six forests, though the OHV Trails Advisory Committee is working with state officials to open more trails. At one time the state allowed OHV riding in nine forests, but irresponsible riding caused their closure. It is in the best interests of all for OHV riders to ride only on designated trails. Find out how to ride safely and legally here.

Stronger Massachusetts OHV laws now in effect

GOVERNOR PATRICK SIGNS OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE BILL INTO LAW—Law aims to increase safety of off-highway vehicle riding and protect natural resources.

Link to the new OHV law, Chapter 202 of the Acts of 2010

Thank you to Senate President Therese Murray!

The Friends Network facilitators thank Senate President Therese Murray for her leadership on the OHV Enforcement Bill and to the 142 Representatives who voted "yes"!

The OHV bill was enacted by the Senate and has now been laid before the Governor for his signature. The Friends Network thanks the Representatives who supported the OHV Enforcement Bill.

MA State Representatives voted in favor of the OHV Bill with 142 Yeas, 12 Nays. View the roll call (courtesy of Jennifer Ryan, Legislative Director, Mass Audubon, www.massaudubon.org). Our thanks to Jen for keeping everyone well informed and up to date.

Representatives who voted NO against the most important environmental bill of the past two years

Barrows, Cabral, Callahan, Garry, Gobi, Guyer, Kujawski, Pignatelli, Frost, Humason, Polito, and Webster. Ask these Representatives why they think it's OK to turn a blind eye on destructive criminal activity and why they do not want to see cooperation on finding legal places to ride OHVs

The OHV bill will give enforcement officers the tools they need to stop illegal and destructive riding on public and private lands and provides funding for the development of public trails in appropriate places.

kid on dirt bike

Legal Riding Areas in Massachusetts State Parks:

Beartown State Forest (Lee, Great Barrington and Monterey)

October Mountain State Forest (Lee, Lenox, Washington and Becket)

Pittsfield State Forest (Pittsfield, Lanesboro and Hancock).

Freetown-Fall River State Forest (Freetown and Fall River)

F. Gilbert Hills, Wrentham and Franklin State Forests

It is illegal to ride an OHV on state lands other than these. Report illegal use every time you see it.

Mass OHV Laws and Regulations

All motorized vehicles must be registered

Registration decals must be displayed in plain sight

Pickup trucks or SUVs are prohibited from all trails at all times

ORV use is permitted only on designated ORV trails - All other state parks, reservations and forests are closed to ORV use at all times

ORV use is permitted only during the riding season - no earlier than May 1 and ending no later than the last Sunday in November each year

No one under the age of 14 may ride on state land without adult supervision.

Report illegal or dangerous OHV/ORV activity to: State Environmental Police 1-800-632-8075 or call Park Watch - 866-PK-WATCH

Massachusetts OHV Articles

October 11, 2013, Vandini family member killed in North Plymouth crash

December 10, 2012, Dirt bike driver questioned after collision with ATV that killed 14-year-old Plymouth boy, By Kathleen Conti, Boston Globe.

August 30, 2012, Preventing Injuries from all-terrain vehicles, Canadian Paediatric Society.

Sept. 5, 2011, Massachusetts Man injured in ATV crash, Bobbie Handstein, Daily Bulldog.

July 17, 2011, Mass. Man injured in ATV accident, Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News.

August 17, 2010 - Man injured when ATV collides with van.

June 30, 2010, Environmental Police Step Up Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement in Northampton, Hatfield Urging ATV and dirt bike operators to ride safely, use helmets.

Monday, February 1, 2010, Senate passes ATV regulations.

Sept 25, 2009, ATV joyride grinds to a halt By Tim Faulkner, Taunton Daily Gazette.

May 9, 2009, Off-road warriors
Cape residents blast ATV users for invading private propert
y, Jenna Russell, Boston Globe

December 24, 2008, PUBLIC LANDS: States move to curb off-highway vehicles as federal efforts lag, Eric Bontrager, Energy & Environment Daily.

Nov 18, 2008, ATV crash lands teen in hospital, Joyce Kell. Milford Daily News.

Oct 23, 2008, Plymouth couple soldiering on in ATV cause, The Patriot Ledger.

Jun 26, 2008, Senate Approves Expanded Regulations for ATV Use in Massachusetts.

May 13, 2008, Mass. Tries To Raise ATV Driving Age. David Wade, WBZ 38. Boston.

May 11, 2008, Ban on ATVs brings quiet to forest, few complaints. Riders moving to N. H. trails. David Rattigan, Boston Globe.

Apr 01, 2008, Dennis-Harwich will cooperate to curb ATV use, Donna Tunney, Harwich.

Aug. 21, 2007, Hanover to crack down on off-roaders on town land, The Patriot Ledger.

Jun. 07, 2007, Nauset Beach closes to off-road vehicles. Matthew Belson, The Cape Codder.