|The following article appeared in the Biddeford-Saco
Journal Tribune (1/31/2002).
ATVs tear up trails in Saco
By KATE BUCKLIN / Journal Tribune Staff Writer
SACO - The destruction caused by all-terrain vehicles on hiking trails in the city must stop, according to Mayor William Johnson and a
representative of Saco Bay Trails.
Johnson said it is disheartening to see the trails Saco has worked so hard to establish be ruined by disrespectful ATV riders. He said he was recently on the Cascade Falls Trail when he spotted two ATV riders trespassing on the trails, which are marked as off-limits to motorized vehicles.
Johnson said he ordered the operators to leave, but said a lot of destruction has already been done.
"For one, they are not allowed to be there," Johnson said. "And two, they have no respect and are tearing the trails up."
Trails built behind the Industrial Park this summer by a group of Americorps volunteers have also been damaged by ATV riders,
according to Johnson and John Andrews, president of the Eastern Trail Alliance. It took the volunteers two months to complete that trail work. Johnson had praised the group for building the spur trail and honored them at a City Council meeting before they left Saco in September.
"They put in great efforts to build those trails," Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the problem is not just on Saco's trails, but on private property in the city as well.
"Property owners are calling about the same situation," said Johnson, a member of the Eastern Trail Alliance, an organization supporting
development of a recreational trail from Portland to Portsmouth, N.H.
Saco Police Chief Richard Nason said his officers go investigate when the department gets complaints about trespassing by three-wheelers, four-wheelers and snowmobiles. He said if property owners get the identification numbers of vehicles, officers will usually get in touch with the vehicle owners and issue warnings.
Nason said the Maine Fish and Game Department will also sometimes assist.
The police chief believes part of the problem with ATVs is that kids who own them have nowhere to drive them. He said it makes no sense for parents to buy an ATV for their children when they have nowhere to ride.
"If you own a 100-by-100 piece of land and have no trailer, it doesn't make much sense to have them," Nason said.
He added ATV trespassing is a problem all over the state.
Andrews agreed that the problems with ATVs are a statewide issue. He said not only do reckless ATV drivers ruin walking trails, but also snowmobile trails.
"It's not the equipment, it's the people," Andrews said. "They have a lack of concern."
Andrews said many of the trails in Saco show the marks of ATV traffic. He said he has seen a few vehicles with six-inch spikes on the tires tearing up trails they should not even be on.
"It's posted," Andrews said.
Even if private property is not posted with a "no trespassing" sign, Nason said ATV riders and snowmobilers should know not to go on
private property where they are not welcome.
"If people don't want them on their land they have that right," Nason said. "It's just something you don't do."
Johnson said ATV organizations should step up and control reckless drivers.
"They go in and do what they want," Johnson said, "These things can't go on."
Johnson said he plans on speaking with the police to see if patrol can be stepped up to combat ATV trespassing.