« PA Governor Decides: Guns Sales Will Halt This Weekend | Main | Anti-Gun Ad Makes Gawker “Want To Shoot Stuff” »

August 29, 2007

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/field-notes

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Field Notes at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/field-notes.

Discussion Topic: Should ATVs Run Wild?

From the Denver Post:

The U.S. Forest Service has begun imposing travel restrictions on ATVs and other off-road vehicles nationally, ending their long-standing permission to go almost anywhere.

The move marks the end of the principle that forest lands are "open unless designated closed" to motor vehicles and instead establishes that they are "closed unless designated open."

"People would say, 'Well, look, there's a two-track there, and it's been there for a long time,"' said Paul Cruz, recreation staff officer for the Arapahoe National Forest. "That won't work anymore. Now, the burden is on the user to have a ... map and to follow it."

What do you think? Is this the right policy?



i do not beleave that this is right.......we the tax payers pay for those lands so we shold be able to drive 4 wheelers and orv on them....i hope michigan dosent do this. i think im going to wright my congressman right now


This will fly in the faces of lots of folks, but I'm glad to see the USFS stepping up to do this.

I realize that a relatively small percentage of off-roaders is responsible for the negative image that many non-ATV riders have of the sport, but that's a problem that proponents will have to overcome or live with. It's no different than the image problems hunters face when a couple of yahoos "defines" the whole community with stupid or unethical actions.

Point is, ATVs are noisy and destructive, and should be confined to specific areas (roads and designated trails) just like any other motorized vehicle. I've seen more hillsides marred and destroyed by ATVs and dirt bikes than I care to remember. Hell, wild hogs aren't even that destructive and most states are trying to eradicate them.


At risk of being flamed mercilessly I say "Hurray!!!"

Too many careless riders tearing up the landscape. Stay on the allowed routes!

Yeah, Im with you guys. I help pay for a lot of federal lands through my tax dollars, but that doesn't mean I should be able to do whatever I want in them. By this logic, I should be able to head over to Yellowstone and dig-up plants for my yard at home, cut down trees for firewood and poison out the bass in the ponds to encourage walleyes.


yes they're right.

Matt Mallery

I hate ATVs. Get off you fat, lazy ass and walk!

Mike Diehl

I think this is a great policy. We taxpayers purchased the land (our ancestors did, anyhow) and we pay more taxes to maintain the land. The ATV crowd have been, to my observation, consistently irresponsible, causing damage that all the rest of us (on foot, NOT causing damage) have to pay for. They drive in washes. Constantly. Which is illegal where I live. Most of 'em don't even pretend to stay on the crummy two-tracks that existed before they came around. Instead they're busy creating NEW 2-tracks by driving over every piece of relatively open ground they can find. And while they're doing it, they're usually yahooing along at high speeds trying to set new records for "tallest dust plume."

Dave M

This seems to be a good compromise solution and places the responsibility of knowing where ATVs are allowed where it belongs: on the rider. Now let's take it a step further and compleatly ban jet skis from all public waterways. At least ATVs have some practical uses, wet bikes and jet skis have none!


I agree. Forest service land is set aside as a place for the public to enjoy the ever shrinking natural habitat that remains. It is a place where wildlife can live free from the hindrance of urban society.

Allowing ATVs to roam freely in the parks is not only a nuisance for hikers and hunters, but also for the wildlife that reside there. A leisure cruise on 2 tracks is one thing, but forest service land is not a race track and needs to be respected. I feel good about paying taxes for forest service land when I know it is remaining wild and untarnished.


More parks should possibly be built such as the one here in Florida. Croom (the name of the park) is a large tract of land designated for 4-wheelers and dirt bikes.


Great news. Our national forests are being ripped apart by rampant illegal ATV use, and I'm glad to see some sort of plan to get this under control. A map with "ATV only" routes and proper enforcement of those rules would be an excellent start.

I know this is probably tough for Field and Stream to discuss since alot of their advertising is from the foreign ATV manufacturers. However, the actual hunting and fishing habitat is far more important to the magazine than ads from motorized recreation.

Without high quality hunting and fishing habitat, Field and Stream has nothing - nothing to sell to, nothing to write about. This supercedes the ads form the ORV manufacturers.

I'm glad to see this discussion on the blog.


I find it interesting that all the people so far commenting in support of this policy can read and write reasonably well, whereas the only person against it can't write or spell at all. I am willing to bet that along with this basic knowledge of grammar and spelling, there is also an awareness brought on by education as well as probable experience, of the actual natural environment we are supposedly sharing in our public lands. This knowledge is most definitely lacking in the writing of the one person against the policy so far.
I personally am totally in favor of this policy, in fact I think they ought to ban these machines altogether. The local hillbilly redneck population here feel it is their obligation not only to ride out on their ATVs and dirt-bikes to destroy their own properties, but to also go forth and wreak havoc on the local forest lands and trails as well. They turn creek bottoms into mud wallows and trails into mud-slides. Logging roads are made impassible to any one save those on dirt bikes or ATVs, or on foot. The deer, elk and other game leave with this constant onslaught of noise and habitat degradation, so these ignorant hillbillies then go off in search them, wrecking even more countryside, all the while wondering where the game and fish have gone! They ruin the peace and quiet of everyone else as well while they are at it, ruining the possible pleasures any one else might partake of in these areas. A lot of them do not wear helmets either, but despite my prayers, this has not seemed to diminish through natural selection this population of self-centered ignorantly destructive pigs.
Along with this, they also feel it is their right to waste gasoline and create massive amounts of pollution on what to every one else is a totally frivolous and destructive activity. I think the only solution is to take away their toys! Ban ATVs, dirt bikes and jet skis too while we are at it.


I agree with the policy in pricipal, however i feel that some of the land should be opened up for unrestricted use.

Also I would like to know if this would then preclude using a ATV to retrive animals that were dropped in the deep woods?


It is a real shame that some members of the ATV community are totally lacking in personal responsibility and ruin things for everyone else. I have an ATV and love it. I do all my riding on my own property which I am fortunate enough to have. I have equipped my quad with a stealth muffler to lessen the noise pollution and take care not to tear things up. Unfortunately for me my property is a weekend place in a Kentucky county were it seems everyone has an ATV and no one understands the concept of private property. Their idea of a fun time on a quad is making as much noise as possible (some of them don't know what a muffler is) and trying to write their names in cursive in my fields. If this is how people treat private lands I can't imagine what they do on public lands. Normally I don't like to support restrictions like this but frankly I don't see any other way.


I applaud the USFS for taking the right approach when dealing with this issue. With so many people on each side of the fence, it will take a middle-of-the-road approach to solve this problem. Banning OHVs all together is not a reasonable solution, and those closed minded radicals that suggest so are not helping the situation. Educational programs such as Tread Lightly are making a difference by targeting younger crowds and providing materials to ATV buyers. I agree that there will always be those who cast a bad image on the sport, however every group has them, motorized and non-motorized. The poster above uses terms such as "redneck" and "ignorant hillbillies". Nice...but sorry that is not the case most of the time. As a former USFS Law Enforcement Officer I can say with experience that alot of our offenders were from urban areas, they had money and alot of toys to bring to the forest. They also seemed to be less concerned with local issues and had no respect for boundries and barriers. My point...these offenders come from all walks of life, and I think you are wrong to stereotype. When the USFS completes it's process, the real problem will be enforcement. Any federal land management employee will tell you that with the diminishing budgets, the first programs to go are education and enforcement. What you have left are alot of overpaid office-dwellers. Laws mean nothing if you cannot enforce them!


ATVs should be banned from all public land. ATV owners are by and large selfish, immature, and totally irresponsible. I know this from watching my own friends and neighbors.

As to the question of whether or not this applies to hunters trying to haul downed game from the "deep woods", I sure hope so. Why wouldn't it? What a childish mentality: "You can't take away my ATV privileges because I need to haul out my game" Oh, okay. I guess we'll just let you tear up the countryside since you're to fat and lazy to use a game cart. How about a little common sense: Don't hunt any further from the truck then you can personally drag or wheel the animal. It's called...responsibility! New concept for many people.


Coming from an ATV owner perspective I think the limitations are fine. We should stick to the trails. But I also think it should be allowed to go off trail to retrieve downed game. This would be a great help to elderly or handicapped hunters. Or to reach a remote campsite. It takes a lot more rides over an area (non wetland at least)to do real damage in my experience.

I like to use may ATV to get into the backwoods and camp/hunt. I don't ride around whooping and speeding. It's just a mode of transportation that makes getting some places easier with my gear.

Mike Diehl

I don't think anyone anywhere ever should take an ATV off trail to retrieve game. If you can't pack it out or drag it out or cart it out, you shouldn't have shot the animal.


I'll stick with the horse for long range hunts. With the horse you can get to the elk and bring it out too. The good ol' horse isn't noisy or destructive. The biggest impact that I see is the occassional pile of crap. At least with the pile of crap you can find your way back to the start point.

Trae B.

Back where i live i found a simple solution for my relatives that live around me that own atvs they would ride around my neck of the woods and mess up my land so so i set off an old field we dint use any more and set up a course.not a hazardes course by the way and said ya'll want to ride go in that field but if i catch you in my land.yaller gonna be sore when ya'll come out and one of my smart-alec nephews who is about 10 and i dont think hes old or responcible enough to be riding a 4-wheeler anyway tested me by going on my land and long story short he dosent have a 4-wheller any more i think you should have to go through an application to be able to drive an atv so more responsible folks can ride them happily.


I have had ATV's for years and hunted all my life, I think that ATV's should be allowed on designated trails... but I also think people abuseing the land (perposely making deep mud wholes by spinning all the time) should be fined this should be policed... and people that run deer and other animals should have the AVT confinscated ..no warnings and have a hefty fine of felony placed on them.


I think you are right NEK VT. I am also an ATV owner. I use it for ranch work, and for hunting. They are a tool, not a toy (just like a pickup). I don't hunt while driving it, but I do use it to get to my hunting areas. Then I get off and walk. When they are driven properly ATVs are more gas friendly, and don't tear up as much country side as a pickup. After all nobody here can tell me they walk carrying all their gear for thirty miles to get to their favorite hunting spot. Then proceed to shoot the animal, throw it over their shoulder, and hike it thirty miles home. If you can do that I give you props. Never should an ATV be used to hunt off of. I think people should be able to drive them on designated paths, and get off them and walk to explore more. If you shoot an animal way off the trail. Too bad, you have to drag it back. Violaters should be fined, etc.


I agree with Dylan and NEK VT. I also appreciate William's fondness for horses BUT I figure he hunts out west in the wide open spaces where a horse trail has minimal effect on the land. Where I live this isn't the case. Horse crap isn't really the problem, heck, it's good fertilizer, but a dozen of them trodding along the same ground day after day tear up things almost (although, granted, not quite as much) as an ATV, especially on small parcels of land like we have here in the east and midwest. For the record I own a horse and an ATV and love them both. Ok, I love the horse a little more but heck, she's part of the family.


You shouldnt need to take in your ATV to drag out game, you can drag the game to the trail then get it with your ATV, if the trails still to far you need to hunt closer to the trails

Sherrill Philip Neese

This is excellent! Two Thumbs Up!

Our Blogs