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Sheriff's Office - Spotlight

Posted on: May 18, 2021

“Know Before You Go” this OHV Safety Awareness Week

Sheriff's Deputy Travis Rogers sits on an ATV

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Off-Highway Motor Vehicle (OHV) Unit encourages the community to “Know Before You Go” this OHV Safety Awareness Week, May 15 – 23, 2021.

Whether you are a new or experienced rider, it is essential to take all safety precautions when operating your Off-Highway Motor Vehicle (OHV) and make sure you know the rules of the road before you go.

In Humboldt County, the use of an OHV, such as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), dirt bike or sand buggy, on local beaches is restricted to the following areas (see maps):

  • Humboldt Bay North Spit: Within the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area;
  • Humboldt Bay South Spit: From the South Spit, south to the Table Bluff County Park Beach Access Parking Lot. Use is permitted for ingress, egress and waveslope only. OHVs are restricted from use in dunes;
  • Centerville Beach: From the Centerville Beach County Park Parking Lot, north to the mouth of the Eel River. Use is permitted for ingress, egress and waveslope only. OHVs are restricted from use in dunes;
  • Table Bluff County Park, south to the Eel River: Only licensed, registered vehicles from the road are permitted to operate in this area. No OHVs are allowed.

All other beach access areas not specifically listed above are restricted from OHV use and could result in fines of up to $250 for improper use (Humboldt County Code Section 917-8). However, certain exceptions are allowed for the following:

  • Commercial fishermen in street licensed four-wheel drive vehicles actively engaged in fishing and/or fishing gear salvage activities. Commercial fishermen wishing to use other vehicle types may apply for a special permit under Humboldt County Code Section 917-4(e) of the Humboldt County Code;
  • Handicapped persons and their legal guardians;
  • Senior citizens;
  • By special permit through the Humboldt County Planning Department.

Other special rules for operating OHVs in public designated spaces include:

  • Riders ages 18 and under must complete the ATV Safety Institute Course and have a valid certificate of completion (VC 38503);
  • A safety flag must be displayed off the back of your OHV in designated areas (with exception of some emergency vehicles).
  • Double riders are only allowed on OHVs built to carry multiple passengers. It is illegal in the state of California for single-rider OHVs to carry multiple passengers (VC 38506).
  • Riders must wear a helmet while operating OHVs (VC 38505).

Along with knowing the rules, whether operating an OHV in designated public spaces or on private property, it’s important to take the following safety precautions:

  • Scout Your Route: Each vehicular recreation area has a vast and diverse mixture of geology for riders exploring in their motorcycle, ATVs, dune buggies or 4x4s; learn about the various trail experience levels and terrain to avoid emergencies.
  • Be Prepared: Know which supplies you need to have for a successful ride. Be prepared with a first aid kit, extra water and food, maps, a tool kit and extra fuel.
  • File a Riding Plan: Tell a responsible person back at camp or at home where you are going and when you plan on returning. Ask that person to notify local law enforcement if you do not return on time.
  • Use Required Safety Equipment: Know which gear is required for your type of recreation to prevent injury. Always wear protective gear, including a safe, well-fitting helmet.
  • Tread Lightly: Know where to ride, and ride only on designated routes and trails. Be sure to check ahead for open trails. Remember, wildlife has the right-of-way.
  • Know Your Limits: Know the rules, your skill level and how to maintain your vehicle. Only operate at speeds in which you can maintain control at all times. Do not ride faster than your talent and never operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Keep your speed under 15 mph when riding near campsites or groups of people.

OHV Safety Awareness Week is an initiative created by the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division to promote safe and responsible OHV practices. To learn more about OHV use in California, visit

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