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Staff column: They could go the way of the dodo

Sun Advocate publisher

Nowadays I don't know what I would do without my ATV's.

It's not that I take them out every weekend (in fact they have hardly been out this summer). I am not the enthusiast some people are.

But I use them for so many things besides just riding. They have come in handy around my property and my son has used them around his place too.

Most of my use comes in the fall and later spring when I train my dog team on them so the pups can be in shape to pull the sled when the snow flies.

But there are those who would love to see them banned, and they don't all belong to one group of people either.

Listen to the television and you can hear them at least weekly. Environmentalists hate them because the tear up hillsides and pollute the air. Safety experts hate them because they kill and maim kids. Energy misers hate them because they burn up precious resources (gasoline) for what they see as silly reasons. Backpackers hate them because they disturb the peace and belch out smelly fumes. The list could go on.

I wasn't always an ATV lover either. Not that I was against them, but I rode single track machines and thought those things with three and four wheels were not near as much fun.

As I got older and my family started worrying about me on two wheels though, I got used to the ATV idea. So now in my late fifties that is all I am allowed to ride.

Next month there will be a big land use rally in Salt Lake; a lot of it is about ATV's. I am all for us protecting our rights. Problem is that some of those that ride these machines are bigger enemies to those of us who respect the land and our issues than the environmentalists, back packers, safety experts or energy savers.

These people are destroying us from within. Just like a criminal with a gun makes the anti-gun lobby stronger every time they commit an infraction, those that tear up hillsides, travel where they are not supposed to, irritate people and generally don't obey the rules are our worst enemies. The BLM and other authorities cannot be everywhere to protect public land from these dopes, nor can they prevent these jerks from tearing down fences on private land, and generally striving to give all of us who ride a bad name.

Local clubs in many places have taken it upon themselves to help police some of this. If they see infractions they contact the right people about it.

But what it will take is the average rider citizen, who may not belong to a club or group, to do the same thing. If the weasels who are causing the trouble knew that every other ATV or single track rider was watching them and then reporting it, it could go a long way to slowing down this tide of anti-ATVism.

It is a well known fact that when average citizens doesn't get involved in helping authorities to control a problem, the problem just gets worse. We all need to help and be part of the solution, and stop being perceived as the problem. That perception could lead to public opinion moving against us.

And otherwise, ATV's could go the way of the Dodo bird.

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