Attitudes toward the outdoors have changed a lot over the years. Once people took very little thought for the effect their actions would have on the outdoors they claimed to love. Because of this, there are many extinct species and permanently damaged landscapes.
The way the outdoors are treated has a huge effect on ATV and snowmobile riders as well, no to mention those who sell snowmobiles, ATV shocks, and the many other things that are involved in this sort of recreation. It pays, sometimes literally, to ride safely and responsibly.
If the relationship between land managers, owners, and other users (hikers, campers, fishers, etc.) are strained, riding areas can be closed or restricted. Most of the time, all it takes is a little common courtesy to maintain good relationships and open riding areas.
There are many things you can do to keep everyone happy, thus keeping your riding area optimized. Give hikers and horseback riders the right of way on a trail. When you meet a horse, or any other animal for that matter, it's a good idea to proceed very slowly, or even just cut the engine until they pass. This way you won't startle them or cause any undue stress.
Keep your ATV quiet. ATVs are manufactured with strict guidelines on noise emissions. If you modify your quad, make sure you stay within those guidelines. Few things make people and animals more upset than a lot of noise. Along with noise pollution, consider other impacts you might be having. Don't litter or leave anything behind. In fact, it's a good idea to leave the area even cleaner than you found it.
Learn about the area you're riding in. First and foremost, this ensures you aren't riding somewhere you shouldn't be. It is also a good way to appreciate the ride a little more. As a bonus, showing knowledge and interest in the area can win big points with a landowner who is on the fence about allowing riders.
Always obey trail markers. Most of the time there are designated riding trails, so other parts of the forest aren't damaged. These markers can also be protecting wildlife habitats, fragile areas such as burn scars, or especially dangerous terrain that your ATV shocks may not be able to handle. Always follow these directions, even if the reasons don't seem obvious. Along the same lines, keep gates closed. Nobody is happy if their livestock is let out or something gets in where it isn't wanted.
So long as you obey these simple rules, your riding will have much less impact on the environment and property. This means the resources will still be available for a long time to come. Remember, happy land owners and managers mean happy riders!