Monday, September 6, 2010

No ATV's on the Trails

It's funny how things get on the news. Jodi Mozdzer of the Valley Independent Sentinel had read some of the chatter on the Shelton Conservation Commission's Google Group about the problems that were being caused by ATV and dirt bike riders at Birchbank Mountain, and wrote a nice article on it. The Valley Independent cranks out a lot of quality journalism for a small staff. Well then last week Channel 8 saw the article, stopped at City Hall and interviewed some folks and presto, it was on the WTNH evening news. This begat a flurry of comments at the bottom of the story regarding the pros and cons of riding ATV's on public open space. Some of the comments were funny and some were just plain sad, but telling.

Long story short; the Shelton Aldermen banned all non-authorized motor vehicles (jeeps, ATV's, dirt bikes, etc.) from all City Parks and open spaces following a host of problems and complaints a number of years ago. Unregistered ATV's and dirt bikes are also banned from City Streets, Land Trust Property, the Housatonic Railroad, Water Co. property, the powerlines, Indian Well State Park, and most of the farms in Shelton. Tom Harbinson, the Chairman of the Shelton Conservation Commission has an extended discussion of the history of local ATV issues on his personal blog.

The Shelton Trails Committee are all volunteers who take care of the trails in the open space and we have had great success encouraging all people to get out and enjoy their open spaces. We don't have problems with hikers, mountain bikers, dog owners, fishermen, kayakers, horseback riders, picnickers, farmers, trail runners, or most homeowners; just the ATV and dirt bike riders.

We work on trails because it's fun and we like seeing people enjoy the parks, but our volunteer time is valuable and limited. Quite frankly we don't have time to fix all the damage caused by a bunch of self-centered yahoos who want to have fun ripping up the trails the day after it's rained 2" because that what they saw in a Suzuki add, or doing big doughnuts in the middle of East Village Park, or chasing cub scouts off the powerlines. We have had to fix more vandalism and clean more trash this year than we should. If any of the trail users see ATV's or dirt bikes on the trails, or see someone dumping trash, or committing vandalism, please help us out. Get a description, or a picture, and call the Shelton Police at (203) 924-1544.

Thanks, and enjoy your parks and open spaces.

9/11/10 Update: The Huntington Herald also did a nice article this week on the problems the City has been having up at the Birchbank Mountain open space on Indian Well Road.

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