All-Terrain Vehicles (VT)

Though less than 2% of Vermont residents own all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), their machines pose a significant risk to the safety of all residents. The pollution caused by ATVs threatens not only the aquatic habitats they destroy, but the overall ecological integrity of Vermont’s public parks, forests, and wildlife management areas. CLF is committed to minimizing that threat for the state’s and New England’s environmental health.

In May 2009, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources proposed opening thousands of acres of state lands to ATV trail development. The measure met with outspoken disapproval by residents and environmental groups including CLF, which submitted comments to the Agency. Vermonters opposed the proposal by a margin of at least 3-1.

Though these comments, including CLF’s own, encouraged a state legislative committee’s unanimous decision against the proposal, then-Governor Jim Douglas’ administration still implemented the ATV rule in early 2010.

CLF promptly filed a lawsuit challenging the rule’s validity and partnered with citizen coalitions and other organizations to restore protection of state lands. In 2011, the Agency reversed its position on the ATV rule, marking a win for CLF; Vermonters who cherish the quiet, safety, and cleanliness of Vermont’s forests and parkland; and the wildlife that live on state lands.

CLF has successfully defended Vermont’s state lands so far, but the fight continues. Though it is currently illegal to travel through these areas thanks to CLF actions, many riders still do so due to a lack of policy enforcement. ATV riders are thus free to ride through fragile forests and parks, where their vehicles pollute the air with noise and exhaust and easily churn up wetlands and stream banks with their deep treads, damaging native flora and fauna.

Preserving Vermont’s lands remains a priority for CLF. Both manufacturers and ATV clubs will continue to push for access to Vermont’s natural terrain, but CLF is committed to protecting Vermont, and the rest of New England, against such threats in years to come.