ATVs And Land Usage
Ever since they were first introduced, ATVs have been an extremely popular form of recreation. There is nothing quite like the exhilarating feeling you get when zooming through the woods on a narrow back trail. The original 3 wheeled ATV was quite unstable and unsafe, but that didn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm one bit. The four wheeler introduced later is much more stable and safe, but still isn’t without its risks. Other concerns have been raised over the legal driving age for ATVs, with some states setting it as other vehicles, and others setting no limits at all. But probably the single biggest point of contention that has arisen is over land-usage rights and exactly where and when ATVs are permitted. This issue is constantly coming up, since many riders are not at all responsible about when and where they ride, often disregarding existing laws in the process.
People always seem to feel the need to leave the trail and start going cross-country. This often take them onto private property in complete disregard of trespassing laws. Most landowners don’t want ATVs ripping through their property, tearing up the ground and making a lot of noise. This is a major point of contention for environmentalists as well, since the deep treads of these vehicles can dig channels and lead to excessive drainage in swampy areas, destroying the natural habitat.
Even in less sensitive areas
The damage caused by irresponsible ATV operation can be significant, especially if an area proves to be particularly popular. ATV riders often point the finger at over development of housing and industrial areas as causing more damage than they do; while this is a (major) factor, the irresponsible ATV rider is still contributing to the overall degradation of these habitats. In colder climates, summer usage of snowmobile trails by ATVs can destroy the careful grooming needed for a nice smooth snow surface for winter use, churning up rocks and digging holes that can damage snowmobiles if they hit them.
ATV advocacy groups
They have stepped in to try and help address these concerns. Some groups purchase land that is then set aside as an ATV riding zone. They will usually build and maintain trails specifically for ATVs, and obtain permission from private property owners if these trails cross their land. These groups will usually run educational programs for ATV riders to try and teach them responsible riding techniques.
With ATV use on the rise, these issues are all ones that need to be addressed, and sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the irresponsible riders may wind up ruining this exciting activity for everyone! Already states are cracking down with harsher laws and stiffer penalties for irresponsible use of ATVs, at the same time limiting the areas that ATVs can be legally ridden in.
This trend is in response to public outcry over the disregard a lot of ATV riders seem to show the environment they ride in, private property laws, and just plain old common courtesy. As a responsible rider, if you see someone doing things that will only aggravate this problem further, take the time to stop and tell them that what they are doing is wrong and can only lead to ATV riders everywhere losing out. If the one that love to go raise hell aren’t stopped soon, they WILL ruin things for everyone. Just show a modicum of common sense and respect for your surroundings, and things will go much better for ATV riders everywhere.