Riding Roughshod- ATV use in New England

Anthony Iarrapino

In the ongoing debate about allowing recreational ATV use on Vermont state wildlife management areas, forests, and parks it seems that hikers and rare, threatened, and endangered forest plants and animals aren’t the only ones who need to worry about getting run over.  The Sunday front-page article titled “State Biologists Worry About Wider ATV Use” written by Burlington Free Press reporter Candace Page details how Agency Secretary Jonathan Wood put the pedal to the metal on his proposal to open state lands to ATVs even as scientists and field experts from his own agency staff raised serious concerns about the negative environmental impact ATVs are already having in Vermont.  Here’s one representative comment from an email written by a Fish and Wildlife Department Ecologist regarding the first proposal to open legal ATV trails on state lands:

“I am concerned that development of this piece of state land for ATV travel will open the door to more trails on other wildlife management areas, state park and state forests…Illegal ATV trails are now a pervasive feature on public lands and I have had the opportunity to walk many of them.  In a majority of cases, ATV riding has a clearly negative impact on the natural resources we steward.”

ATV

ATV “mudding” causes water pollution and degrades sensitive wetland habitats

The article was based in large part on internal agency communications obtained by Conservation Law Foundation through the freedom of information process and that were shared with the Free Press as well as other members of the media and legislative leaders who will have to vote later this summer on whether to approve the Agency’s proposal to allow construction of ATV trails on state lands.  You can see more excerpts from these public records by reading our comments on the proposed rule.

In addition to ANR scientists, CLF and its coalition partners have been joined by hundreds of Vermonters who also filed comments opposing this environmentally irresponsible proposal, outnumbering supporters of the proposal by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.

A recent 3-part investigative report from the Minnesota Star Tribune titled “Renegade Riders” demonstrates that the scientists and other field experts in Vermont are justified in their concern over the decision of political appointees at the agency to open state lands to ATV trails.  Minnesota state officials opened public land in that state to legal ATV trail riding several years ago.  Ever since, the Minnesota agency has been struggling to get a handle on the environmental destruction and out-of-control illegal off-trail riding that exists despite the ample opportunities ATVers have on legally designated trails.  If you want to see what these powerful machines can do to sensitive forest habitat, spend a few minutes watching the hidden camera video shot by the reporters for the Star Tribune.

Later this summer, 8 members of the Vermont legislature “joint committee on administrative rules” have a chance to stop this scientifically unsound policy in its tracks.  Please contact CLF if you’d like to help make sure that happens.

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12 Responses to “Riding Roughshod- ATV use in New England”

  1. […] As I wrote earlier on this blog, the agency leadership revved its engines and ran right over opposition from concerned members of the public who commented on the rule–by the agency’s own estimate, commenters opposed the proposal by a ratio of 4-to-1.  The professional objections of its own scientists, game wardens, and on-the-ground land managers didn’t slow agency leaders down either.  In public documents obtained by CLF and reported in the press, career Agency employees expressed concerns about the damage to public and private property caused by illegal ATV use that ANR already struggles to control with existing resources.  They also worried about the strain that managing the numerous public safety and environmental impacts surrounding ATV trails would place on an understaffed agency reeling from more job cuts.   […]

  2. […] As I wrote earlier on this blog, the agency leadership revved its engines and ran right over opposition from concerned members of the public who commented on the rule–by the agency’s own estimate, commenters opposed the proposal by a ratio of 4-to-1.  The professional objections of its own scientists, game wardens, and on-the-ground land managers didn’t slow agency leaders down either.  In public documents obtained by CLF and reported in the press, career Agency employees expressed concerns about the damage to public and private property caused by illegal ATV use that ANR already struggles to control with existing resources.  They also worried about the strain that managing the numerous public safety and environmental impacts surrounding ATV trails would place on an understaffed agency reeling from more job cuts.   […]

  3. […] As I wrote earlier on this blog, the agency leadership revved its engines and ran right over opposition from concerned members of the public who commented on the rule–by the agency’s own estimate, commenters opposed the proposal by a ratio of 4-to-1.  The professional objections of its own scientists, game wardens, and on-the-ground land managers didn’t slow agency leaders down either.  In public documents obtained by CLF and reported in the press, career Agency employees expressed concerns about the damage to public and private property caused by illegal ATV use that ANR already struggles to control with existing resources.  They also worried about the strain that managing the numerous public safety and environmental impacts surrounding ATV trails would place on an understaffed agency reeling from more job cuts.   […]

  4. […] As I wrote earlier on this blog, the agency leadership revved its engines and ran right over opposition from concerned members of the public who commented on the rule–by the agency’s own estimate, commenters opposed the proposal by a ratio of 4-to-1.  The professional objections of its own scientists, game wardens, and on-the-ground land managers didn’t slow agency leaders down either.  In public documents obtained by CLF and reported in the press, career Agency employees expressed concerns about the damage to public and private property caused by illegal ATV use that ANR already struggles to control with existing resources.  They also worried about the strain that managing the numerous public safety and environmental impacts surrounding ATV trails would place on an understaffed agency reeling from more job cuts.   […]

  5. People got to get law makers to push laws hard to stop ATV riders from using state lands and parks.It is bad enough to have ATV’s riding over private lands where they feel they have a right to destroy anything in their way.They do not even ask the land owner if they can come on to the land or cross the land.Even had some that went and rode through the new corn or soy making it a mess and hard to harvest what was left at the end of the season.Leave gates open so that some animals can get out or chasing after horses.
    I have seen places where it was only for horses,walking, or bicycling now gone because of the ATV digging the area up and tearing trees down.We had great trout stream turn into mud holes so that ATV’s can ride up and down the streams.Then just this pass deer season a group of ATV riders ran a small herb of deer in to a field of heavy snow and raced around 2 of the deer till they where dead then drove away.Called the DEC but it was the next day before they got there and nothing was done.
    Also they have to make stronger laws keeping them off the roads.We have them here and they race each other up and down the streets,roads and some have even taken to the local highways.
    It would nice to see all ATV riders to go to driver training like car owners, get plates, and insurance.so that if they do come on state land or your land you can get a plate number and take the insurance for damages.It also should be a law no kids under 18 rides without a adult. No drinking or drugs or guns and riding.Then they need to make a stronger law that you do not have small children ride with an adult that has no safety seat, seat belt of any kind or no helmet.Example there is a mother and father that race back and forworth

  6. People got to get law makers to push laws hard to stop ATV riders from using state lands and parks.It is bad enough to have ATV’s riding over private lands where they feel they have a right to destroy anything in their way.They do not even ask the land owner if they can come on to the land or cross the land.Even had some that went and rode through the new corn or soy making it a mess and hard to harvest what was left at the end of the season.Leave gates open so that some animals can get out or chasing after horses.
    I have seen places where it was only for horses,walking, or bicycling now gone because of the ATV digging the area up and tearing trees down.We had great trout stream turn into mud holes so that ATV’s can ride up and down the streams.Then just this pass deer season a group of ATV riders ran a small herb of deer in to a field of heavy snow and raced around 2 of the deer till they where dead then drove away.Called the DEC but it was the next day before they got there and nothing was done.
    Also they have to make stronger laws keeping them off the roads.We have them here and they race each other up and down the streets,roads and some have even taken to the local highways.
    It would nice to see all ATV riders to go to driver training like car owners, get plates, and insurance.so that if they do come on state land or your land you can get a plate number and take the insurance for damages.It also should be a law no kids under 18 rides without a adult. No drinking or drugs or guns and riding.Then they need to make a stronger law that you do not have small children ride with an adult that has no safety seat, seat belt of any kind or no helmet.Example there is a mother and father that race back and forworth

  7. People got to get law makers to push laws hard to stop ATV riders from using state lands and parks.It is bad enough to have ATV’s riding over private lands where they feel they have a right to destroy anything in their way.They do not even ask the land owner if they can come on to the land or cross the land.Even had some that went and rode through the new corn or soy making it a mess and hard to harvest what was left at the end of the season.Leave gates open so that some animals can get out or chasing after horses.
    I have seen places where it was only for horses,walking, or bicycling now gone because of the ATV digging the area up and tearing trees down.We had great trout stream turn into mud holes so that ATV’s can ride up and down the streams.Then just this pass deer season a group of ATV riders ran a small herb of deer in to a field of heavy snow and raced around 2 of the deer till they where dead then drove away.Called the DEC but it was the next day before they got there and nothing was done.
    Also they have to make stronger laws keeping them off the roads.We have them here and they race each other up and down the streets,roads and some have even taken to the local highways.
    It would nice to see all ATV riders to go to driver training like car owners, get plates, and insurance.so that if they do come on state land or your land you can get a plate number and take the insurance for damages.It also should be a law no kids under 18 rides without a adult. No drinking or drugs or guns and riding.Then they need to make a stronger law that you do not have small children ride with an adult that has no safety seat, seat belt of any kind or no helmet.Example there is a mother and father that race back and forworth

  8. People got to get law makers to push laws hard to stop ATV riders from using state lands and parks.It is bad enough to have ATV’s riding over private lands where they feel they have a right to destroy anything in their way.They do not even ask the land owner if they can come on to the land or cross the land.Even had some that went and rode through the new corn or soy making it a mess and hard to harvest what was left at the end of the season.Leave gates open so that some animals can get out or chasing after horses.
    I have seen places where it was only for horses,walking, or bicycling now gone because of the ATV digging the area up and tearing trees down.We had great trout stream turn into mud holes so that ATV’s can ride up and down the streams.Then just this pass deer season a group of ATV riders ran a small herb of deer in to a field of heavy snow and raced around 2 of the deer till they where dead then drove away.Called the DEC but it was the next day before they got there and nothing was done.
    Also they have to make stronger laws keeping them off the roads.We have them here and they race each other up and down the streets,roads and some have even taken to the local highways.
    It would nice to see all ATV riders to go to driver training like car owners, get plates, and insurance.so that if they do come on state land or your land you can get a plate number and take the insurance for damages.It also should be a law no kids under 18 rides without a adult. No drinking or drugs or guns and riding.Then they need to make a stronger law that you do not have small children ride with an adult that has no safety seat, seat belt of any kind or no helmet.Example there is a mother and father that race back and forworth

  9. Chris Taylor

    If there were trails running along side state highways, lets say 100 feet parallel from the road, the A.T.V. riders would’nt disturb any more wild life than the cars and trucks already do. The riders would also benifit from the highway in case they need help, and law enforcement can access the trail from the highway incase anyone misbehaves. If you force all A.T.V. traffic on to a very small area, it will inevitably get worn out. Nobody wants that to happen. Most A.T.V. riders are very enviromentaly friendly, and appreciate the great outdoors. More trails along side of the highways means less wear and tear on each trail, and we can all benefit from that. We are not villians and deserve a reasonable place to ride responsibly, without harrassment. You will always be able to find a picture of people behaving badly. Please don’t paint us all with that brush. Just like everybody else, we deserve a place to be. And as long as everybody acts respectfully towards each other, and the enviroment, we can all enjoy life.

  10. Chris Taylor

    If there were trails running along side state highways, lets say 100 feet parallel from the road, the A.T.V. riders would’nt disturb any more wild life than the cars and trucks already do. The riders would also benifit from the highway in case they need help, and law enforcement can access the trail from the highway incase anyone misbehaves. If you force all A.T.V. traffic on to a very small area, it will inevitably get worn out. Nobody wants that to happen. Most A.T.V. riders are very enviromentaly friendly, and appreciate the great outdoors. More trails along side of the highways means less wear and tear on each trail, and we can all benefit from that. We are not villians and deserve a reasonable place to ride responsibly, without harrassment. You will always be able to find a picture of people behaving badly. Please don’t paint us all with that brush. Just like everybody else, we deserve a place to be. And as long as everybody acts respectfully towards each other, and the enviroment, we can all enjoy life.

  11. Chris Taylor

    If there were trails running along side state highways, lets say 100 feet parallel from the road, the A.T.V. riders would’nt disturb any more wild life than the cars and trucks already do. The riders would also benifit from the highway in case they need help, and law enforcement can access the trail from the highway incase anyone misbehaves. If you force all A.T.V. traffic on to a very small area, it will inevitably get worn out. Nobody wants that to happen. Most A.T.V. riders are very enviromentaly friendly, and appreciate the great outdoors. More trails along side of the highways means less wear and tear on each trail, and we can all benefit from that. We are not villians and deserve a reasonable place to ride responsibly, without harrassment. You will always be able to find a picture of people behaving badly. Please don’t paint us all with that brush. Just like everybody else, we deserve a place to be. And as long as everybody acts respectfully towards each other, and the enviroment, we can all enjoy life.

  12. Chris Taylor

    If there were trails running along side state highways, lets say 100 feet parallel from the road, the A.T.V. riders would’nt disturb any more wild life than the cars and trucks already do. The riders would also benifit from the highway in case they need help, and law enforcement can access the trail from the highway incase anyone misbehaves. If you force all A.T.V. traffic on to a very small area, it will inevitably get worn out. Nobody wants that to happen. Most A.T.V. riders are very enviromentaly friendly, and appreciate the great outdoors. More trails along side of the highways means less wear and tear on each trail, and we can all benefit from that. We are not villians and deserve a reasonable place to ride responsibly, without harrassment. You will always be able to find a picture of people behaving badly. Please don’t paint us all with that brush. Just like everybody else, we deserve a place to be. And as long as everybody acts respectfully towards each other, and the enviroment, we can all enjoy life.

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