2017-09-09 / Front Page

Caution urged in ATV trail expansion

Some of the people who do not support expanding all-terrain vehicle riding opportunities in Cameron County took their case to last week’s Emporium Rotary Club meeting.

Operating as the loosely organized “Residents for Protecting Cameron County Wilds,” Steve VanEerden, Randy Flament and Fran Bardo cited the potential for extensive environmental damage, public safety hazards and a disruption to the county’s traditional peace and tranquility as reasons for their opposition.

“We’re not against ATVs -- there’s a place for them -- but we oppose putting them on public roads and in neighborhoods,” said Flament. “We have thousands of acres in Cameron County open to ATV riding already, and thousands more within an hour’s drive.”

More than 400 camps and full-time residences are located along roads and trails being proposed for ATV use. This would expose hundreds of people to excessive noise, trespassing incidents and potential for accidents, Flament pointed out.

The trio displayed pictures depicting the impact of erosion and sediment on local streams and trails and roads where ATVs had illegally traveled. Those rogue riders who trespass and speed are rarely apprehended, they added.

“Townships and boroughs have the right to open their roads to ATVs, but they don’t have the resources to enforce the rules and ordinances they put in place to regulate the activity,” said VanEerden. “State police can’t enforce those ordinances either.”

While acknowledging the potential economic benefit of expanded riding opportunities, the speakers said alternative activities that have less impact on the environment should be emphasized to boost tourism.

“We have so many other assets to explore such as the state forest and game lands, state parks, and low-impact outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, birding, hiking, kayaking, geocaching and mountain biking,” Flament said. “We’re very fortunate to live where we do and it needs to be preserved.”

Return to top