2017-10-07 / Viewpoints


ATVs: Give it a try

Dear editor:

I recently received a note from one of the forerunners of civilian efforts in protecting our trout-rich waterways. He is a long-time member of the most active watershed organization in Potter County and does so much more than just “talk the talk.”

His complaint was that my “ATV buddies” are eroding a buffer zone that protects a stream of exceptional value. My immediate response was, those people are not my buddies and never have been. And I further went on to say that in my days as a conservation officer some of my most gratifying pinches were prosecuting ATV riders who were making every responsible enthusiast look bad.

I did the best I could to protect our lands and waters and fish and wildlife for 25 years in a professional capacity and continued on until recently in lead roles with two watershed groups.

This explosion of ATV activity is reason for concern. Future sales of ATVs are destined to be off the charts. There are in Pennsylvania 265,000 registered ATVs and another 100,000 not registered. That doesn’t include the non-resident riders.

With those numbers in mind, is it not a given that problems will continue to arise? Is there an answer? There could be.

Pa. State Police as the lead law enforcement agency in the commonwealth must lead by example. Other agencies will follow. DCNR, DEP, Game Commission and Fish and Boat could take the baton and become more aggressively involved. And know this: state conservation officers have broad-ranging powers of arrest.

Perhaps there is a new level of ATV law enforcement by state police in the offing. A few Saturdays ago, there was an ATV bust on West Branch Road in Potter County. It had been used as a trail connector for a couple of years. Multiple citations were issued, mostly for riding on state roads not open to ATV travel and non-use of helmets.

I suggest that township supervisors and those interested in supporting local businesses and jobs in Cameron County provide greater riding opportunities as an experimental run. It may not work, but then again it may not be nearly as bad as the naysayers predict.

Leaders of the Cameron County ATV/UTV Association are astute business owners and enthusiasts. It’s your county, and it’s a pretty lovely place to be, is it not?

So, with that said, I’m outta here. Thank you.

Joe Parr
Homer Township

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