Newspaper columnist defends landowner booby-traps

BRush

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#1
Fred LeBrun, newspaper columnist and our local poster-boy for intolerant my-way-or-the-highway environmentalism , has written a column expressing outrage that authorities would cite a local landowner for putting down nail-studded boards as booby traps for some ATV riders illegally crossing his property. If you've taken your blood-pressure medication, and want to read a lot of pejorative terms like "bandit ATV'ers" , see our sport get tarred with a broad brush, and experience a general over-the-top spewing of venom, then read on:

http://timesunion.com/aspstories/storyprint.asp?storyKey=62173
 

LoriKTM

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#2
That clown doesn't know when to let up. I think he is now enjoying all of the attention he received from his previous socialist commentary on ATVs, and feels the need to stir the pot every now and again.
I say Friday evening after the NY Spodefest, we all take a little trip to Albany and "persuade" Mr. LeBrun to change his viewpoints. :p
 

KWJams

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#4
What it is all about!

Our state legislators have been persuaded so far not to bend to the powerful ATV lobby. A bill that would have given them something of a trail system funded out of ATV registration fees is going nowhere this session. But, no doubt the lobby will be back again next year.
Towards the end of the article he slips this little piece of propaganda in. :(

In other words, he is symbolically falling on his sword just to get the word out to defeat the trail issue.
 
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#5
Bury him, and more importantly his editors, in mail people. Don't sit there and be silent. Stand up make some NOISE! Speak now or its one more brick in the wall between you and your riding areas!

Text of my letter:

I am outraged and sickened by the latest filth to spew from the twisted mind of Fred LeBrun. I can only hope that he didn't really mean to say what was printed in his "Landowner has right to fight ATVs" column and that the typist garbled his text because she had trouble reading it due to the color of crayon LeBrun used. The fact that the editors allowed it to go to print casts doubt on their intelligence as well. But lets look at the facts.

Mr. LeBrun when a weapon is discharged at an unarmed person, as was done by Mark Ferran, its called assault with a deadly weapon, and its illegal. When you place boards studded with nails on a trail, as was done by Mr. Ferran, its called reckless endangerment, and it is also a crime. These acts are considered criminal BECAUSE SOMEONE COULD GET KILLED! Mr. Ferran may not like ATV users on his property but that does not give him the right to respond with deadly force. If Mr. Ferran is serious about keeping ATVers off his property and the posted signs and the police aren't doing their jobs then he should learn about a wonderful invention called a fence. Its a lot cheaper than jail time in the long run.

Mr. LeBrun makes the observation that, "It strikes me America is not the land of bearing with it when it comes to injustice." So lets talk about injustice for a moment. In 1986 the state legislature passed the original OHV Registration and Trail Funding Act. In 1990 after raising more than $500,000 dollars for trail construction and maintenance that were never spent the fund was abolished, the monies were moved to the general fund but the registration requirement remains. Since then an estimated $5 Million has been stolen out of the pockets of OHV owners in the State of New York for absolutely no benefit. That's called taxation without representation and if I recall this country went to war over that. Injustice indeed. We are NOT terrorists Mr. LeBrun, we are the victims of corrupt environmental special interest groups and the state government they've hog-tied.

Here's a dose of reality (something not often found in your column). NY has the 6th largest OHV economy in the USA (source: MIC, 2000). That is hundreds of thousands of people spending millions of dollars in the New York state economy. Other states have already realized the benefits to dealing with OHVs in a rational manner. States like Michigan, which has over 3,000 miles of OHV trails, know that the income from OHV tourism has a real benefit to local economies and the state's bottom line. They also realize that properly managed OHV trails have a minimal environmental impact. In fact in 1993 the Department of Environmental Conservation published a position statement that recommends that trails "be established...to provide a recreational opportunity to a sizable constituency which has expressed the need for a place to ride ATV's."

Mr. LeBrun, in closing allow me to make a suggestion. You should take an opinion writing course from a reputable instructor. The point of a persuasive essay is to make solid, persuasive arguments based in facts, not to spout Earth First propaganda while foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. You should also take a course in critical thinking, it will help you sort valid arguments from emotional propaganda. Also, you may want to give up granola cold turkey and take a small vacation where you go spend some time with people who work for a living. The experience will give you a whole new perspective. In the meantime please turn in your crayons to the editor.

Dave Kennel
Watkins Glen, NY

Here's the email addresses I use: editor@timesunion.com; postmaster@timesunion.com; flebrun@timesunion.com

SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER LOSE YOUR RIGHT TO RIDE
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#6
I am a licensed attorney in Texas. I read Mr. LeBrun's column where he refers to Mark Ferran as a hero. In my opinion, as long as Mr. LeBrun continues to support such unacceptable practices, he will never have any real credibility. Any legislator or attorney understands that setting potentially deadly booby traps is an unacceptable practice that could result in death or serious bodily injury.

According to most state's law, the only time a property owner is justified in using potentially deadly force against a trespasser is if the property owner reasonably perceives himself to be in imminent danger. There is no doubt in my mind that a jury would convict Mr. Ferran of an aggravated assault/battery charge if he were to injure/kill a trespassing ATVer. Someone cutting across your property does not place you in imminent danger. The only person Mr. Lebrun harmed in writing his article is Mr. Ferran and Mr. Ferran's first victim. In fact, if the injury is bad enough, the prosecutor could bring charges against Mr. Lebrun for encouraging/soliciting such criminal behavior.

Despite public opinion, juries are very intelligent and normally reach the right decision. Imagine sitting on a jury and hearing a mother explain the loss of her son. Then Mr. Ferran gets in the box and explains that the ATVers must be stopped. I'll put my money on the grieving mother over Mr. Ferran any day. I believe Mr. Ferran will be spending a little time behind bars. Better get your checkbook out Mr. Ferran, a good criminal defense attorney will charge you somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000-$20,000 up front to bring that case to trial and, at the end of the day, I believe the jury will convict.

The best way to deal with individuals like Mr. Lebrun is to let him continue to run off his mouth. Public opinion will judge Mr. Lebrun for who he is. The truth of the matter is that on a day to day basis 99% of Americans do not think about ATVs. It is simply not a problem at the forefront of most Americans concerns. In addition, there is no real environmental theat posed by the use of ATVs. As a result, like anything else, if ATV users contribute enough money for a trail system then one should be established. If we pay for it, we should get it. Sounds like a contract to me.

All we want is more places to ride in a safe and controlled environment. Bicyclers get bike paths. Joggers get jogging paths. Boat owners get lakes. Hikers get hiking trails. Book worms get libraries. We are entitled to our piece of the pie under our current system of government. Just stay the course and remain reasonable. Remember that public opinion will judge you. When you are wrong (traspassing) admit it. When you are right beat it into their heads (establish a trailsystem). In all of your actions you represent all off roaders so proceed on that basis. In the end, we will all be better off.

Oh yeah, one last thing, take your fight to where it matters the most. With all due respect, a columnist for the Albany Times Union should not get your feathers ruffled. I would focus on state and federal legislators. Hey, if Hillary Clinton can become a N.Y. senator anything can happen. Good luck and remember you can always move to Texas--have you seen George Bush's twin V-8 cigarrette boat? I have a pretty good idea how GW would react to Mr. Lebrun's advice.
 

XRpredator

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#7
I can understand the landowner's point of view. It is his property and the ATVers are trespassing. BUT . . . You don't go shooting out their tires with a shotgun and laying down nail-boards on the trails! That's the problem I have with Mr. Lebrun's editorial. The landowner needs to let the law take care of things instead of taking it into his own hands.

I feel for the property owner, and it's too bad there are the bad apples out there that are spoiling it for the rest of us.:(
 
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#8
nacob,

That method might work ok in conservative Texas, but this is the liberal North East where we have a high population of people who really think the way Fred LeBrun does. The politicians will go whichever way the masses want. The environmentalists know that the media is the most effective way to reach the masses and rather than simply send out press releases they work with sympathizers inside the media to make sure that their voice and their voice alone is heard. They know as long as they continue to win the PR battles they continue to win the war on every front. We cannot roll over on even a single battle. I feel for this landowner. The ATVers that are riding on his land are a bunch of punks and deserve a fistfull of tickets and to have their vehicles impounded. But we cannot have landowners shooting at ATV riders even if they are tresspassing and more importantly we cannot allow those who shoot at ATVs to become heros and martyrs for the environmental cause. They MUST be exposed for the idiots that they are where it ultimately matters, in the court of public opinion. As long as we allow the ecos to control the debate we loose.
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LoriKTM

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#9
I couldn't stand it. I had to e-mail the paper regarding this idiot. My letter:

Wow. Now I've seen everything. It is amazing in this day and age that a prestigious paper such as the TimesUnion will hire any man-on-the-street to write such drivel as spouts from the poisoned pen of Fred LeBrun.

In his July 17th article, Fred manages to embarrass himself and expose his ignorance for all the world in his praise of landowner defense of trespassing ATVs. Defense, mind you, consisting of shooting out the tires on said ATV, or placing booby traps on the trails.

Usually, if trespassing is a recurring problem, the local law enforcement should be called in to settle things. It is abhorrent to think that if I were to pull into Mr.Ferran's driveway because I made a wrong turn on a road, that I could have the tires shot out on my car. That is, after all, trespassing also. What do you think of that, Mr. LeBrun?? So, shooting someone who trespasses your property is worthy of praise? You are a sick man.

Then, skewing off topic, LeBrun mentions that only after ALL of the "illegal" ATVs have been registered should New York even consider the building and maintenance of a trail system. "..as we have with car and boat and motorcycle owners."
But, the trails should only be on private lands, never public, according to LeBrun. Mr. LeBrun, where do you think the registration funds GO? To the GOVERNMENT! Ergo, the GOVERNMENT uses the funds to maintain a trail system on PUBLIC lands! See how that works?
There already exist a number of privately-owned ATV facilites in many areas. These private facilites charge a small usage fee, usually to cover liability costs. They do not in any way benefit from GOVERNMENT sponsored programs, such as registration fees.

And, as you said, if ATVs are registered like cars, boats and motorcycles, then they should have the same access to public areas. Cars and motorcycles use PUBLIC roads, and boats use PUBLIC lakes and recreation areas. Therefore, ATVs should have access to PUBLIC areas as well.

It would be nice to see all ATVs registered legally. It is apparent that the reason that more of them are NOT registered is the very fact that there are extremely limited riding opportunites. Let's say a new state-owned area were opened up with exciting new trails and facilities, but all vehicles had to be registered to use the park. If the riding was that good, word would get around and you would see people lined up outside the DMV to get their ATV registered to use the new system. Guaranteed. "If you build it, they will come."

As you propose things, trails wouldn't get built until all ATVs were registered. Would you like that same situation for your car or boat, Mr. LeBrun? Can you imagine yourself going down to the DMV, asking for a registration plate, paying your money, only to be told that you can't drive because the roads haven't been built yet??!! "But we'll get to it, as soon as EVERYONE has registered their car."
Laughable, Mr. LeBrun, truly laughable. Would you be willing to pay registration for a boat, even if you didn't have a state-provided area to use it?? I didn't think so. But ATV riders pay it, in the hopes that some day they WILL get something back for it.

Mr. LeBrun, put your ideas together before passing off your opinions. You manage to string together a series of pejorative statements regarding ATVs without any consideration of the practicality of your words. Your commentary has enough logical holes in it to drive a fleet of semi-tractors through it. And I'm appalled that someone actually PAYS you money to write this.

For shame.

Lori Kennel
Corning, NY
 

WoodsRider

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#10
My Letter to the Editor

As a recent transplant to the capital region, and a new subscriber to the Albany Times-Union, I was shocked to read Mr. Fred LeBrun’s editorial in the July 17 edition. For the record I am an off-road vehicle enthusiast. I enjoy riding for recreation and regularly participate in organized off-road enduros. I am also a member of the American Motorcyclist Association as well as other organizations that promote responsible off-road motorcycling.

Mr. LeBrun is defending the practice of burying boards with nails protruding up to stop trespassing All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) riders. While I understand the land owners concern over having ATV’s trespassing and illegally operating on his property. I do not agree with his method or the fact that Mr. LeBrun supports such a dangerous act. The problem with advocating the use of these “booby” traps is that other Times-Union readers may decide to do something similar. Maybe they are dealing with ATV operators trespassing on private property, but what about people and/or animals using the same path as the ATV’s? What would happen if they accidentally stepped on one of these “booby” traps? Buried nails don’t just flatten ATV tires they also cause deep puncture wounds that in extreme cases can be fatal. As for Mr. LeBrun’s comment about this not being considered a terrorist act, perhaps he should check out the various internet sites that promote the use of this and other, more deadly, “booby” traps. Most of these sites have links to Earth First or the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), whom the FBI considers a terrorist group. Among these sites you will find instructions showing how to bury a shotgun shell in a trail or string piano wire at neck height across a trail in order to stop an “invading enemy” riding an off-road motorcycle. Would Mr. LeBrun support these acts of violence as well? In this case, I do not understand why the land owner could not simply run a few strands of barbed wire with well placed “No Trespassing” signs to prevent the ATV’s from illegally operating on his property. Obviously he is trying to antagonize the ATV operators and this whole situation could escalate into violence or even death, all with Mr. LeBrun’s approval.

Additionally Mr. LeBrun supports licensing ATV’s, yet is against developing Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) areas on public land. This is completely absurd. Why would someone pay to license a vehicle if they are only allowed to operate on private property? I suppose the monies collected could just be funneled into the pockets of a few politicians or wasted away in some useless giveaway program. While my motorcycle must be licensed for enduro competition, it does not have a New York ORV license. Nor will it ever have one until public land is developed for ORV activity. Over the past 30 years public land for legal ORV activity has dwindled down to almost nothing. During this same time ATV sales have skyrocketed. Unfortunately without any legal places to ride many ATV operators end up trespassing on private land. While I do not condone trespassing, I can tell you this situation will only get worse and give everyone involved a black eye. It is a lose – lose situation.

I realize that the majority of your readers could care less about ATV’s and/or the development of public land for ORV operation. Yet the Times-Union is only providing them a skewed version of Mr. LeBrun’s opinion on ATV’s. I do not agree with his opinion and until the Times-Union can present both sides of the story I will be canceling my subscription. I realize this has very little impact on your bottom dollar, but I’ll get a little satisfaction knowing that none of my hard-earned money goes towards Mr. LeBrun’s salary.


William T. Steele
Niskayuna, NY
 

jeffd

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#12
These are all excellent letters.

I do think the ATVers targeted by the landowner are wrong for trespassing.
I also thing the landowner is not handling the situation correctly. Booby traps are illegal - period. The columnist is a moron (that is painfully obvious), however there are tens of thousands of people that will swallow his tripe. We need to unify our efforts to shutdown the blathering idiots like LeBrun, educate the ignorant masses, and stop the morons from doing the stuff that gives us all a bad name.

On another note - the ELF has a nice little cookbook they recently added to their site. These jokers are truly sick. Take a look at this:
http://www.earthliberationfront.com/library/elf_manual300.pdf

-jeffd