news-atv-thumbBY MARCY STAMPER

Off-road vehicles can now travel at the speed limit on Okanogan County roads, following a decision by the county commissioners on Tuesday, May 14.

After a public hearing about the speed limit and other minor changes regarding the operation of off-road vehicles (ORVs), the commissioners elected to permit the vehicles to travel at the posted speed limit, rather than a maximum of 35 miles per hour.

At present, the change does not affect the Methow, since there are no county roads here that have been opened to ORVs (also known as all-terrain vehicles or ATVs). The towns of Twisp and Winthrop both recently considered proposals to permit ATVs to operate on town streets. Winthrop rejected the request and Twisp tabled it indefinitely.

The commissioners also updated the ordinance to clarify that it is not unlawful to carry a loaded pistol and to allow disabled individuals to hunt from an ATV with the appropriate permit, in accordance with state law. People may not use the vehicles to run down or harass animals. The commissioners updated the county snowmobile ordinance to reflect the same changes with regard to weapons, hunting and wildlife.

Existing provisions of the ORV ordinance require a valid driver’s license, headlights and taillights, brakes and a muffler for any travel not on the owner’s property.

Many county roads in the eastern part of Okanogan County have been opened to ATV use by the commissioners. Those closest to the Methow are in Malott and the Chiliwist and near Okanogan.