South Dakota Editorial RoundupOff-road system needed for Black Hills National Forest
When the Black Hills National Forest wrote its off-road vehicle travel management plan last year, part of the proposal was the creation of a designated off-road trail system.
Off-road system needed for Black Hills National Forest
When the Black Hills National Forest wrote its off-road vehicle travel management plan last year, part of the proposal was the creation of a designated off-road trail system. The use of ATVs and dirt bikes in national forests is growing and the Forest Service wants to protect valuable forest resources, including plants and wildlife, while still allowing off-road vehicle owners to use the forest road and trail systems.
A bill before the state Legislature that would have helped fund more off-road trails in South Dakota was killed because some ATV users said it would take away their licenses and ban them from riding on paved roads and streets.
Approximately 17,000 ATVs in South Dakota are licensed to drive on roads and streets, and most want to continue to be able to use them as state law is currently written — on state highways but not on interstates.
Backers of the bill also agreed that some funding system was needed to help pay for more off-road trails in the state. ATV users in East River, however, objected to paying for a trail system in the Black Hills when there are no trails in the eastern part of the state.
It is our view that some commonsense compromise can be reached among ATV users on a set of laws that regulate ATVs to the satisfaction of all users — recreation, agriculture and business — and all areas of the state, both East River and the Black Hills.
Because ATVs can be driven like vehicles and motorcycles, it makes sense to continue to license them and allow them to travel on roads and streets.
And because most off-road trail systems are in the Black Hills area, it makes sense to require a fee sticker to use trails that will help fund and maintain a trail system.
The sticker would be voluntary for ATV users who want to use the trails — much as Mickelson Trail users have to buy a daily or annual permit and be able to show it. If trails are developed elsewhere in the state, a sticker requirement would be in place to help pay for the trail system.
It’s unfortunate that problems in the bill before this year’s Legislature could not have been overcome, but that shouldn’t stop advocates of an off-road trail system from returning next year with a bill that is satisfactory to a majority of the state’s ATV users.
Rapid City Journal
Bills should aid officers when handling mentally ill people
It just makes sense for law enforcement officers to have the maximum flexibility to deal with mentally ill or intoxicated people.
Just as importantly, any actions police take should be the most appropriate and humane for the people involved.
This year’s Legislature deserves credit for passing two bills that will aid that effort.
The first measure, HB1131, expands a provision that previously only allowed intoxicated people who were clearly a danger to themselves or others to be taken into protective custody for detoxification if they were in a public place.
If a person were in a home, then officers would need to place the intoxicated person on an involuntary mental hold. Under the new bill, officers now can simply send that person to detox.
A second bill will help law enforcement officers determine if a person might have a legitimate mental health issue, however. HB1132 allows counties to create mobile response units that could refer a person to a mental health or detox facility, or resolve the situation on sight.
That resolution could range from requesting help from a service agency to an arrest.
This approach makes sure incidents are handled based on their particular situations and receive the appropriate response. It also helps reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary mental health holds.
The new laws, which Gov. Mike Rounds has signed, gives local law enforcement officials more flexible and humane tools that they should begin using as soon as possible.
Sioux Falls Argus Leader