ATV Impact on Small Communities
August 1, 2017
The Paiute ATV Trail in central Utah is one of the most successful endeavors of its kind. Picture postcard scenery that ignites the imagination: 250-mile long winding trail through glades and dells. An additional 750 miles is designated to side trails through craggy rock outcroppings, past vibrant, blue mountain lakes and into more than 15 surrounding communities. Guest blogger Ryan Richards sat down with Darin Bushman, a key Paiute ATV Trail supporter, for an interview.
Darin is a county commissioner-elect for Piute County, a past president of the Paiute ATV Trail Committee, and a former president of the Marysvale, Utah, Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves as a board member of the Paiute ATV Trail Committee and works with the EMT program in his community. With a bachelor's degree in marketing and longtime family ties to Marysvale, Darin has a keen understanding of the importance the trail holds.
Q & A With an OHV Insider
What does the Paiute Trail mean in terms of economic impact on the small communities of central Utah?
Darin: Twenty-five years ago you could have bought all of Marysvale for a half a million dollars. In the 22 years since the trail has been here, property values have risen steadily, and now there are quite a few homes valued at over $500k. I bought a building lot in 1991 for $1,750, and now lots are going for $40,000.
So property and home values have increased tremendously. What else does that do for members of the community?
Darin: One big example of the effect of rising real estate values throughout Piute County is our new high school. It cost $6 million, and we never would have been able to afford such a nice facility without the economic benefits of the Paiute Trail.
A constant drumbeat on the news lately is for more jobs. Has the ATV boom in Piute County had an impact on jobs and incomes?
Darin: Absolutely! Before the trail, there was a grocery store in town and most other businesses had dried up; gone under. Now there are over 200 RV camping spots in Marysvale. The county has a few new restaurants, hotels, and other business all trail related. Piute County only has 1,450 total residents and a full 120 of them work in the tourism industry. There are also financial impacts to neighboring counties with respect to construction, jobs, and incomes.
There have been some negative impacts as well. Trail width restrictions essentially cut off the rapidly growing UTV traffic to the town of Circleville and a couple of businesses ended up going under because of it. The good news is that we've successfully changed those restrictions to 60 inches and now most side-by-sides can easily get into town. Business there is starting to come back.
What are the greatest concerns of area leaders with regards to ATV/UTV use?
Darin: The first is safety. My experience as an EMT shows that about 60% of all our ambulance runs are ATV-related accidents. Some are pretty bad, too. Kids have to wear helmets by law, but everyone should too, it's just smart.
As planners and leaders, another challenge we face is balancing four-wheeler use with the privacy and peace of all of our citizens. When you have this many folk riding quads up and down the streets every day from May to October (our typical season), sometimes we get a little ATV weary. We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, the communities, and the streets where they live, so keeping the peace is a very important goal we have.
You mentioned that there are a lot of accidents. I'm sure there's an emotional toll; is there also a financial impact?
Darin: As I mentioned, our county is small and wet, therefore, have a limited budget for ambulance services as well as search and rescue. Fortunately, over the years weâve forged partnerships with the Forest Service, Utah State Parks, and the Bureau of Land Management to all work together when these unfortunate situations arise. But here inUtah the majority of ATV registration fees remain with the county that the machine's owner lives in. The bulk of Utah's population is up north, but nearly everyone comes here to ride. That mixture of circumstances can put a strain on our resources.
What kind of off-highway vehicle do you ride and what kind of ATV tires do you prefer?
Darin: I have two Polaris RZRs. They are both stock 800s so they are narrow enough to handle all the50-inchh gates on the trail. One of them is sporting a set of Maxxis Bighorns because I like their versatility and trail gripping ability. The other RZR has some good quality Greenball Corporation GBC Dirt Tamers. Both are great tires.
ATVs Make a Difference
Off-highway vehicle riders make meaningful, positive impacts on people's lives. They range from putting children into a better school, helping to create jobs in rural areas, and increasing property values. If you ever get the urge to spin your ATV wheels along the Paiute Trail in Utah, stop in Marysvale and look up Commissioner Bushman. I'm sure he'll be a great host.