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Old 11-17-2003, 06:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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ATVs: Do you ban them or build trails for them?

ATVs: Do you ban them or build trails for them?

HOPKINTON, N.H. (AP) -- They called the annual spring event "Mudder's Day."

Illegal but popular, it drew more than 100 all-terrain vehicles to ride through a 15-acre marsh inside the Hopkinton-Everett flood control area.

The roaring machines churned up mud, disturbed nesting sites and provided fertile ground for invasive plants. Worse, they regularly got stuck, requiring pickup trucks and even tow trucks to pull them out of the sensitive ecosystem.

A Fish and Game Department sting operation finally stopped Mudder's Day, recalls Bob MacGregor, a state forester assigned to the area at that time. But complaints by riders that they had no legal trails to ride eventually prompted the state to allow some in the area -- away from the wetlands. The bog has since recovered.

The compromise, brokered nearly 15 years ago, is still cited by trail advocates in New Hampshire and elsewhere as an example of how to respond to one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation in the country.

ATV sales are skyrocketing, and no one denies the machines can churn up wetlands, erode slopes and disturb animal habitats.

Damage by off-road vehicles led Rhode Island and New Jersey to ban them from public lands last year. Vermont and Connecticut have long-standing ATV bans. Maine and New Hampshire have tried to create trails as a way to channel riders and limit environmental damage. This has led riders in other states to pressure their leaders to consider that approach.

What's become increasingly difficult is ignoring them. Maine had 55,600 registered ATVs last year, a jump of 90 percent compared to five years ago. New Hampshire has more than 21,000, a figure that's more than doubled in five years. Massachusetts has 24,000 registered, roughly triple the number five years earlier.

Many more unregistered ATVs are believed to be using trails on private lands or traveling on public lands illegally.

The New England states have responded in a variety of ways. New Hampshire has passed legislation raising ATV registration fees and mandating the development of new trails with some of the money. Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown is being evaluated for a possible year-round ATV trail system. Neighbors are fighting the proposal, in part because they say there's no plan to enforce rules for riders.

Both Maine and New Hampshire have well-established ATV clubs that work as partners with state officials. Vermont has a fledgling organization, the Vermont ATV Sportsmen's Association, that is working with private landowners to open trails. The association has been struggling with insurance and membership issues, however.

Association Vice President Dan Hale said he envies the way Maine and New Hampshire work with ATV clubs. But ATVs have provoked heated debate in those states despite the cooperation. Maine's governor launched a study of trails, safety and related issues that is due in January. One advantage Maine and New Hampshire have over their southern neighbors is large tracts of sparsely populated land in the north.

http://www.centralmaine.com/sports/stories/167723.shtml
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Old 11-17-2003, 06:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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these are atv's only area's???? why not all motorized rigs? are the atv'ers that much better organized?
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Old 11-19-2003, 09:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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ATVs need some trails of their own.

The wheel base is why, the automotive 4x4s track to wide and if ruts are involved it is hard for the ATVs. In Texas they have their own trails in some places.
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