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http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2004/09/29/news/wyoming/08190f
6246536b5c87256f1d0007cdf9.txt


Forest cracks down on illegal ATV use

By WHITNEY ROYSTER
Star-Tribune environmental reporter


JACKSON -- For the first time ever, two full-time law enforcement
officers are patrolling the south end of the Shoshone National Forest.

The officers are looking to stem the problem of all-terrain vehicle
users creating new trails and riding in closed areas, Wapiti District
Ranger Dave Myers said.

"The amount of use and owners of ATVs, and those people wanting to
recreate on the Shoshone, has just escalated," he said Monday. "It's not
a new discovery. It's just a building problem over the last 15 years as
the ATV use has just escalated."

The two patrollers will hand out tickets for as much as $100 to people
using motorized vehicles in wilderness areas, off-road, or on closed
roads. Mandatory court appearances are also possible, and violators may
be required to pay for resource damage.

Myers said new trails are being created on the forest in "fingers" off
open roads, in areas specifically closed to protect natural resources.

For example, he said a designated motorized trail ends at a lake in the
Beartooth area, but ATV users have kept going and made trails around the
lake. And, motorized recreation ends at wilderness areas, but in parts
of the Washakie Wilderness, users have continued on the road into the
wilderness.

But Darren Bailey, an ATV user from Fremont County for 38 years, said
the problem stems from a lack of adequate trails.

"The Forest Service and greenies have it cut down where there's not a
lot of places to ride," Bailey said. "It's been better. When there are
no trails to ride on, people are going to go wherever they want to go."

For example, forest officials have closed off some creek crossings to
ATV use, Bailey said, because the kick-up of mud creates ruts and might
harm fish. But elk do the same thing, he said.

"Take this (state surplus) money and instead of closing the road off ...
build a bridge," he said. Without a bridge, illegal use will continue
and even more land will be torn up, Bailey added.

Myers said there is still "good access" on the forest for ATVs.

Areas closed to ATV use might be horse trails, or where the trail might
not be wide enough, Myers said.

He said people have been taking signs down or driving around "closed
area" signs.

"This isn't really unique to the Shoshone," Myers said. "Most national
forests I've been on are having problems with it."

U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth has identified unauthorized ATV
use as one of the four biggest threats to the future of national
forests.

Bailey said people taking signs down has been "going on a long time,"
and isn't exclusive to ATV users.

"Locking (lands) away as wilderness is worthless in my book," he said.
"We're talking about grown men. ... You close down places where these
people have been going, they're going to cut the locks. They're going to
go around it. You're really not going to lock them out."

Myers said other forest users want to know what areas are open to ATV
users.

The problems are occurring from the northern end of the forest in the
Absaroka-Beartooth and North Absaroka wilderness areas to the Washakie
Wilderness and Dunoir special management areas, to the Fitzpatrick and
Popo Agie wilderness areas in the south end.

Four-wheel-drive vehicles are also illegally trespassing on some forest
trails, according to forest officials.

Both Myers and Bailey agreed most ATV users are not riding illegally,
but if just a few riders begin a trail illegally, more people will
follow unknowingly, creating an illegal road.

"Even those that do it knowingly may not think it's that bad," Myers
said, "but they don't see the cumulative effects of the multitude of
trails."

Environmental reporter Whitney Royster can be reached at (307) 734-0260
or at [email protected].
 

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While I sympathize with some of the sentiments and emotions of the ATV riders--for instance, not having enough areas to recreate--and while I disapprove of designating areas as "Wilderness" when they are already developed with motorized trails, I must admit that these ATV users are, quite simply, breaking the law!

If they are riding their ATVs into Federal Wilderness designated land, they SHOULD be ticketed. If they're driving off the trail in non-open-designation areas, they SHOULD be ticketed. If they're yanking down "closed" signs and driving off the trail, they SHOULD be ticketed.

If they don't LIKE the laws, then they should exercise their American constitutional rights to fight and CHANGE those laws.

But purposefully breaking the law isn't the proper thing to do.





 

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Electric Sheep said:
While I sympathize with some of the sentiments and emotions of the ATV riders--for instance, not having enough areas to recreate--and while I disapprove of designating areas as "Wilderness" when they are already developed with motorized trails, I must admit that these ATV users are, quite simply, breaking the law!

If they are riding their ATVs into Federal Wilderness designated land, they SHOULD be ticketed. If they're driving off the trail in non-open-designation areas, they SHOULD be ticketed. If they're yanking down "closed" signs and driving off the trail, they SHOULD be ticketed.

If they don't LIKE the laws, then they should exercise their American constitutional rights to fight and CHANGE those laws.

But purposefully breaking the law isn't the proper thing to do.


We have the same problem here in Northern AZ where dirtbikes and quads aer constantly making new trails adn getting entire areas closed because of their lack of respect for the land. I say ticket em and charge of for teh damage caused..... a bill for several thousand dollars might just teach a lesson
 
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