Off-road vehicles have lost their free ride on Ferry County’s roadways.
Two ordinances that allowed off-road vehicle traffic on many of the northeastern Washington county’s rural roads were overturned by a Spokane County Superior Court judge. In a ruling last week, Judge Michael Price said some of the roads opened to ORV use failed to meet the state’s criteria: They didn’t create direct routes between cities of less than 3,000 people and designed off-road recreation areas.
The ruling was a victory for Quiet Communities, a citizens group that challenged the ordinances.
“Off-road vehicles are recreational toys. They’re not for vehicular travel,” said Ellen Picken, Quiet Communities’ president.
Widespread use of ORVs on county roads creates safety hazards, she said.
As part of the judge’s decision, Ferry County agreed to conduct an environmental impact statement before adopting a new ORV ordinance. That work has already begun, said Brad Miller, a Ferry County commissioner.
Miller said the board of commissioners hasn’t had an opportunity to discuss Price’s ruling. However, Miller said he hopes the commissioners and Quiet Communities can reach a compromise.
“Some of these roads have four, five or six vehicles per day,” Miller said. They seem suited to ORV use, he added.
“It’s not like we’re throwing ORVs out there on a Spokane street,” he said.