No matter what you do an important thing to take into consideration is responsibility. Whether it's your job, your hobby, or anything else, you should always respect what is around you. The same holds true when you are riding an ATV.
Environmental concerns can cause a lot of tension between ATV riders and conservationists. These type of confrontations usually involve heated tempers and huge generalizations from both sides. Lines are drawn in the sand and neither will cross to see the other's point of view.
For the ATV rider, it is important to understand the concerns set forth for the environment. Fortunately, most do. Like hikers, campers, and other outdoors enthusiasts, the vast majority of ATV riders have a healthy respect and concern for the environment they play and often live in.
One of the main concerns brought up is the deterioration of the forest ATV trails cause. While there can be some weight to this claim, it is not nearly as bad as one might be led to believe. First and foremost, the total area on which ORVs are allowed is quite small compared to the huge landmass on which they are prohibited. Most places strictly enforce trail laws, and regularly check up on the condition of the trails so the erosion isn't any more widespread than necessary.
This is not to say that there is no damage done. There are certainly times when some careless rider goes off the marked trails and damages plants or causes erosion. This is more the exception than the rule, and most ATV riders help to enforce the policies rather than encourage breaking the rules.
One thing that is often ignored on the topic is the spread of noxious or otherwise unwanted plants and weeds. Seeds can be stuck in the tires or the mud on your quad, so it's critical that you wash it off after every ride.
Another problem is the undue stress caused to wildlife, campers, and nearby residents by the noise ATVs produce. Again, this is often exaggerated a great deal. Noise pollution is a serious concern, but nothing like what it is made out to be. There have been great advances in mufflers and exhaust systems in the past few decades, and the average ATV now is not much louder than a pickup truck. The noise can still be quite obnoxious to the people and animals who are around, however, so it's important to keep your surroundings in mind.
Finally, concerns are often cited about the emissions of a sled. Again, manufacturers have made huge steps forward in this field. While emissions will be a concern as long as there are combustion engines, singling out any particular variety is unreasonable.
The fact of the matter is, ATV riders have a huge vested interest in protecting the winter playgrounds in which they ride. Despite the few bad apples mixed in with the bunch, most are responsible about and respectful of the environment. As long as they are aware of the possible problems and do their best to avoid them, we will all be able to enjoy many years of fun.
Environmental Impact of ATVs
Monday, August 22, 2011 10:33:13 PM America/Denver
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