- Mar 13, 2001
Dear Ms. Moroz,
I found your article on damage done by ATVs to parklands particularly biased and distasteful. As a former journalist I believe that my writing professors, and any editor worth his paycheck, would have chewed you out for such a one-sided story. However, I don't fully blame you. This type of fuzzy-headed thinking is regrettably common at news institutions these days. More and more the media is becoming a schill for every leftist/statist/environmental crusade to come down the pike.
Did you even analyze your own data?
You wrote: "In Pennsylvania, where there are 188 miles of legal ATV trails in the state forests, officials have reported similar devastation by riders who have taken to the backwoods." and "In New Jersey, the number of registered vehicles has gone from 800 in 1989 to 3,017 this year, with as many as 100,000 unregistered. In Pennsylvania, the number has jumped 145 percent to 67,700 in the last five years, not including an estimated 200,000 unregistered vehicles."
By my calculations that's 1423 ATV's per mile of trail in Pennsylvania. Do you still think that the state of Pennsylvania is doing an effective job of providing riding opportunities for ATVs? How about Jersey? I come up with 2575 ATVs per mile of legal trail. If they all went riding on legal trail on the same day you would be able to walk from ATV to ATV and never touch the ground!
Population densities that high of ANYTHING is going to cause damage.
Furthermore you quote representatives of 4 different environmental groups, many of them radical environmental groups opposed to any form of off highway recreation including ATVs, snowmobiles and mountain bikes etc. Many of these groups are also strongly opposed to private property rights and are committed to the re-settlement and "re-wilding" of 50% of the US. These groups have consistently abused the legal system to prevent or close off highway recreation.
You also quoted three representatives of government bodies concerned with public lands. But only one quote from a member of an ATV club that represented 40 people. Why did you not contact the American Motorcyclist Association, the Blue Ribbon Coalition or the East Coast Enduro Riders Association? What about all the local ORV groups that give tons of volunteer time to the forestry system? Many states collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from ATV registration programs and very few of those dollars ever go back to help ATV riders or the trail systems. In general if it were not for active ORV clubs there would be no trail systems since the clubs provide all of the manpower for trail construction and maintenance. In fact these clubs frequently volunteer their time to help on non-ORV related projects at the forests that are hosts to trail systems or races.
In the interest of the journalistic ideal of impartiality and personal integrity I believe you owe it to your readers and yourself to spend some time with an active ORV club and do a story on the positive aspects of ORV recreation.
With both barrels blazing.