Permit needed for 4×4 routes?

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4×4 trails are available to the public, but some require a permit for use. These permits are used for trail maintenance and safety. Permits must be displayed on the vehicle and are required for off-road vehicles. Law enforcement and maintenance crews monitor the trails, and damage can result in citations. The “light tread” creed requires minimal disturbance to the land. Permits function as license plates for vehicles on the trails.

There are many 4×4 trails open to the public, although some specific trails require a trail permit. While many 4×4 trails are free to use, these are commonly trails created on private property or land owned or leased by a 4×4 club. These trails may also be located on government property in certain situations, however, trails that operate on most government land – whether state, county or federal property – require the purchase of a trail permit. The fees for these permits are often used for trail maintenance and upkeep, as well as police patrolling to ensure safety and rescue when needed.

On 4×4 routes that require a permit, it is commonly required that the permit be displayed prominently on the vehicle. Permits are often the same for a 4×4 vehicle as they are for an off-road motorcycle, dune buggy or ATV (ATV). Land earmarked for use by off-highway vehicles by any government agency is typically not sponsored by federal or local funds beyond what is generated from the sale of permits. These 4×4 trails require monitoring by law enforcement and maintenance crews in order to maintain a clean and safe environment for those using them.

The vast majority of 4×4 routes that require a permit are commonly posted very clearly with information. If you come across a trail that isn’t so designated, it’s often a wise practice to inquire with a local police department or ask a conservation or park ranger about permit requirements. Not seeing a billboard sign is not an excuse for not displaying a permit sticker on 4×4 trails and could result in a citation. The cost of the infraction is commonly higher than the cost of a trail permit, and you will still need to purchase a permit to ride the trails in the future.

Many 4×4 trails are often subject to the “light tread” creed that the land must not be disturbed more than absolutely necessary, under penalty of law. By monitoring vehicles entering the trail site, any resulting damage can often be traced back to the offender. This is aided by the recording and monitoring of trail authorization numbers and entry and departure times for any given vehicle in correlation with marked trail damage. In most cases, permits function as license plates for vehicles traveling the 4×4 trails.

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