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ATV Riders Openly Breaking Forest Rules

The Albuquerque Journal - Letter to the Editor
December 17, 2007

RE: NO NEED To Blaze More Forest Paths for ATV Riders" column

I disagree with the Forest Service's Tom Dwyer's opinion that only a small percentage of off-road vehicle users are outlaws.

I have watched firsthand, near my Colorado property, as members of "responsible" 4WD clubs used chain saws and beefed-up vehicles to create roads over routes that had formerly been stream beds, footpaths and steep hillsides. Over the years, they aggressively pressured our local district ranger to include some of these roads on forest service maps.

On one recent map, a water ditch is shown as a 4WD road. Other roads are shown in places where no road has ever existed. I have been trying for a decade to get the maps corrected, but it seems that once these "virtual roads" are depicted, they can never be removed.

Since some these fake thoroughfares are shown crossing private land, off-road club members have torn down gates and trespassed, citing the very maps they helped create. Leaders of industry-funded national organizations like Blue Ribbon Coalition and Tread Lightly refuse to condemn this activity. They say they don't have the resources to determine whether a valid right-of-way exists.

Unfortunately, the Forest Service doesn't seem to, either.


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