County supervisors consider request for recreation use of ATVs/UTVs on county roads

Craig Maasdam, owner of Fast Trax Sports in Sully, is looking for the community’s support in passing an ordinance he thinks would benefit businesses and residents alike. The ordinance would allow recreational users of all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles to drive on county roads.

                In his business of selling powersports products, Maasdam said he has encountered a lot of people who wish they could legally drive their ATVs and UTVs on the gravel roads in the area. Their wish may come true if the Jasper County Supervisors decide to pass an ordinance as Maasdam has requested.

                Iowa law allows ATV/UTV operators to be on rural state and county roadways for farm-related tasks. For recreational use, however, ATV/UTV restrictions are left up to county governments. As it is now, Jasper County does not allow for recreational use of ATVs and UTVs on public roads.

                “Back in ‘05 or ‘06, I was on the Iowa Motorcycle Dealers Association Board,” Maasdam said. “We as a dealer association lobbied to get this (recreational use ordinance) done. They tried to pass a ruling in the state to make it legal in all counties, but it failed. So then they passed another ruling that allowed the counties to do it county by county.”

Craig Maasdam, owner of Fast Trax Sports, sits in an off-road utility vehicle in his shop in Sully. Maasdam says sales of the UTVs have been affected by the farm economy. He thinks a passed recreational use ordinance would expand his buying market for ATVs and UTVs, and help the Jasper County economy.

                Since then, 44 of Iowa’s 99 counties – including nearby Warren and Mahaska Counties – have passed some type of ordinance allowing recreational use of ATVs and/or UTVs on county roads. Most of those counties have a set of generic rules to govern the vehicles’ use.

                At the Jasper County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, the board agreed to Maasdam’s request to consider options for recreational ATV/UTV use in Jasper County. Supervisor Brandon Talsma is researching the proposal.

                Maasdam gave the supervisors an ordinance from Wright County as an example of what rules Jasper County could set. For example, Wright County requires ATV and UTV operators to have an Iowa driver’s license, register their vehicles, and have proof of insurance.

                Maasdam pointed out that cities within Jasper County would still get to decide if they want to allow ATVs and UTVs within city limits. If the county passes an ordinance, Maasdam thinks it’s important for the towns to allow ATVs and UTVs as well so their citizens can ride and so the cities can benefit from potential revenue generated by gas and restaurant sales.

                He envisions possible organized rides and families riding into town on their UTVs. “You could see people from Kellogg riding down the gravel roads to come to Sully to the (Coffee Cup) Café or to the (Van Wijk) Winery,” Maasdam said.

                Of course, if an ordinance like this were to pass, Maasdam is hoping sales at Fast Trax would increase, too, which would generate sales tax revenue for Sully as well. A suffering farm economy has had its impact on Maasdam’s business over the past few years. Farmers and others in the ag industry are his biggest customers, and many haven’t been able to afford upgrading or buying ATVs and UTVs. That’s a big reason why Maasdam would like a recreational use ordinance to pass – so he can market his ATVs and UTVs to people not as affected by the farm economy.

                Motorcycles are allowed on roads for recreational use, Maasdam added, so he questions why ATV and UTV owners aren’t allowed to do the same.

                Maasdam is waiting to see when the Jasper County Supervisors will discuss the idea of an ATV/UTV ordinance next. In the meantime, he’s asking for the public’s support and that they would contact their supervisors to let them know they are in favor of the recreational use of ATVs and UTVs on county roads.

                “This is never going to happen if the people don’t email their supervisors or call them and ask for it,” Maasdam said. “They need to be contacted, and ask for it. That’s the only way this is going to happen.”

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