April 19, 2011
ATV riders asking for access to state lands
A law that would allow larger all-terrain vehicles to be registered and used in New York state is being endorsed by ATV riders from Cortland and beyond who also want a state trail network for ATVs.
Steve Fox, president of the Sherburne ATV Trail Riders, presided over a meeting of several area ATV groups Sunday at the Cuyler Firehouse.
Sally Perkins, a member of Quad County Trail Riders, a Cuyler-based ATV club, also attended the meeting and said about 50 people came to support extending the rights of ATV riders statewide.
Fox and Perkins said they support allowing ATVs of up to 1,500 pounds, or UTVs, to be registered and used in the state.
They also think ATVs of all sizes should be allowed on state lands.
A proposed bill in the Assembly, expected to be voted on in May, addresses the issue of allowing oversized ATVs to be registered in the state, but not the issue of providing a state trail network for ATVs.
Fox said the issues are separate but he would like the state to eventually provide a network of trails for ATVs, as it does for snowmobiles. Regarding allowing the larger ATVs to be used in the state, Fox said the state would benefit by getting increased revenue from registration fees on these vehicles.
Fox said the registration fee for an ATV is $12.50.
“Other than New York state, most all of the surrounding states have state funded trail systems where UTVs and ATVs are allowed. One of our complaints is they make us register our machines but we get nothing in return for it,” Fox said.
Perkins, who herself enjoys driving ATVs, said the larger UTVs, known as side-by-sides, allow a driver to travel with a passenger. Other states, like Maine, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, allow them, she said.
Fox said he knows of many riders who own UTVs and have to go to one of these states to legally ride them.
Both Fox and Perkins said ATV riders are responsible and they make and maintain their trails, taking care not to destroy the environment or land.
“If a bridge needs to be built, we build a bridge. We will maintain and take care of it ourselves,” Perkins said.
Perkins said ATVs should be treated similarly to snowmobiles, which are allowed access to some state lands. ATV trails are only on private lands now. They sometimes share trails with snowmobiles if a landowner grants permission.
Assemblyman William Magee (D-Nelson), who attended the meeting, is supporting the pending ATV bill.
Fox said the bill would raise the weight limit on ATVs from 1,000 pounds to 1,500 pounds so UTVs could also be allowed. These larger vehicles are sometimes only about 50 pounds or 100 pounds over the weight limit, he said.
Magee was not available for comment.
Fox and Perkins stressed the benefits of ATV riding.
Perkins noted that ATVs are used to aid with search and rescue missions.
Perkins recalled a successful mission by volunteers on ATVs who recently helped find a man who was missing in Cazenovia.
ATV drivers are sensitive to farmers and keep their vehicles off farm lands, Perkins said.
Fox, who has been riding ATVs for five years, said they provide an enjoyable outdoor experience.
“It is just a joy to pack a picnic lunch and go out and enjoy the nature,” Fox said, adding he will only hit a top speed of about 10 miles per hour while riding the trails.
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