ATV meeting draws overflow crowd

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(Host) An overflow crowd of nearly three hundred filled a Montpelier auditorium last night to weigh in on a proposal to allow all terrain vehicles limited access to state lands.

The Agency of Natural Resources has proposed allowing ATV access in designated areas to connect existing trails on private land. 

Monday night’s hearing drew a crowd that was largely in support of the proposal, some who belong to ATV clubs.  Ernie Pappas is president of the club in Island Pond.

Pappas says ATV riders do a good job policing themselves and he says the agency’s proposal is modest.

(Pappas) "The proposal doesn’t open up all this land carte blanche to ATV riding.  All it would do is open up the opportunity for us to present a trail to the state to either be accepted or denied.  ATV users are often depicted as being a minority user and that they don’t count.  I disagree with that.  We pay taxes just like everybody else.  We don’t want all the land, we just want a little bit of it." 

(Host) Those who object to the proposed rule cite damage caused by illegal ATV use on state and federal lands. 

They also say enforcement of the rule would be a problem for an agency that’s already understaffed. 

Les Blomberg of Montpelier opposes opening state land to ATVs.  Blomberg says access isn’t the issue.  

(Blomberg) "As citizens of Vermont ATV enthusiasts have access to all the state lands that you or I have access to.  Access for citizens of Vermont to state lands is not the issue.  What is at issue is whether we allow access to ATVs which are clearly not citizens of Vermont."

(Host) The Agency of Natural Resources is accepting written comments from the public on the rule for the next week. 

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