One Wildlife Way, Santa Fe, NM 87507

Post Office Box 25112, Santa Fe, NM 87504

Tel (505) 476-8000 | Fax (505) 476-8123

For Information call (888) 248-6866 |

Race Promoters and Participants:

It seems there has been some confusion lately of what is, and what is not required for race participants to be compliant with New Mexico State Law while competing in a race that takes place on public land. In order to clear up the confusion, representatives from Game and Fish, BLM, and the USFS got together to ensure that all agencies were enforcing the Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) Act, 66-3-1001 NMSA 1978 consistently.

I want to share some information from that meeting with you to help ensure racers show up ready to ride, and your races continue to be successful events. For many years it was believed that all competitive events were exempt from provisions in the OHV Act, including registration and safety training requirements for youth operators. Upon closer examination of the law it appears that this was a misconception shared among the enforcement and racing community. Below are some facts about the legal requirements to participate in races on public lands in New Mexico.

  • New Mexico residents who participate in sanctioned and permitted OHV events on public land (BLM/Forest Service) are required to abide by all New Mexico OHV state law.
  • New Mexico residents must have all OHVs registered with the MVD’s yellow resident decal or a decal or user permit from another state to participate in sanctioned or permitted events.
  • Non-residents who will be using OHVs solely for organized and endorsed competitions are exempt from any OHV state law; including youth size fit standards and safety permit requirements.
  • Non-residents who are practicing for the races on public land prior to race day must comply with all state law. Once they are participating in the official event then, and only then, they are exempted from the OHV Act.
  • Regardless of residency status all OHVs must be equipped with a US Forest Service approved spark arrestor.
  • Motorcycle participants under the age of 6 are allowed to operate on public land, regardless of their residency status. ATV participants under the age of 6 are prohibited from using their ATV on public land, unless they are non-residents.
  • Participants ranging in age from 6 to 17 who are New Mexico residents must have a safety permit and present it on demand regardless of skill level.

Please make sure and share this information with your race participants prior to your next event. I understand that clarifying the laws and rules associated with participating in your long standing events will take some time and effort, and i do not intend to place the entire burden on racers and event organizers. If there is something the New Mexico OHV Program can do to help disseminate this information please do not hesitate to ask.

I know that your events are important to the families that participate in them and the local communities that support them, so please ensure that your racers are compliant with all state and local laws when they show up on race day so that your events can continue to be a success. If you have any questions about the information in this letter please contact Marc Hildesheim, New Mexico Game and Fish OHV Program Manager, 505-222-4728, or click here for email.


Marc Hildesheim

To find out more information and to take an online OHV safety training course, click on the following link: