Landowners call for stricter ATV regulations

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(Host) A Vermont landowners group has called for stricter controls on the use of all terrain vehicles. The group says it will also oppose allowing ATV’s on state lands when the issue comes before the Vermont Legislature next year.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The Vermont Woodlands Association says regulating all terrain vehicles will be its number one priority when lawmakers return to Montpelier in January. Mary Jeanne Packer is the association’s Executive Director. She says in a recent survey of members many reported property damage due to the unauthorized use of ATVs.

(Packer) “The survey we did of our members really loud and clear said this is a terrible, terrible problem, having an actual dollar impact on our members as well as affecting the quality of their lives and the quality of their land.”

(Zind) Packer says the Woodlands Association will push for enforcing mandatory registration of ATV’s. Currently only a small percentage of the ATV’s in Vermont are registered. The association also wants ATV’s to be clearly marked to help landowners report unauthorized use.

Packer says even though the association is made up of private landowners, it’s calling on the legislature to keep in place the prohibition on riding ATV’s on public land.

(Packer) “If ATV use is allowed to occur on state lands, the theory is adjoining private lands could end up having that use bump over onto private land.”

(Zind) The Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association says it supports mandatory registration. But the group says problems associated with ATV use are due to a lack of a good trail system. Dan Ducharme is President of the association. Ducharme says ATVs have the same right to public lands as snow machines. He says his group will push the legislature to open state lands to ATV trails. Ducharme says without a trail system, there will be more problems as the number of ATVs grows.

(Ducharme) “The machines are out there. They’re not going away. So we have to get this thing under control because if we don’t it’s going to be out of control, a lot worse than it is now.”

(Zind) Durcharme says a good ATV trail system would provide the state with an economic boost, just as snow machine trails have brought in riders from around the region.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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