Home and Garden

Tread Lightly! What You Should Know About 4 Wheelers

My husband and I reside in an area in central Minnesota. As with recreation areas throughout the nation, this means many frequently use four-wheelers around us. We have four that we use to plow snow from our driveway, haul wood in the woodpile to the home, and to travel the recreation trails of the region. We also utilize our four-wheelers during the deer hunting season to get back to our deer stands and to transfer the deer out of the woods. I think they're a useful and fun vehicle. There are so many people who use their four-wheelers to destroy the natural beauty of our State or intentionally.

It all starts with the fortunate fact that there are several paths in the acreage behind our house for four-wheelers. We normally use these paths to go from 1 neighbor's home to another and to simply walk in the woods. The wooded area where the trails are located has quite dense vegetation filled with beautiful hardwood maples and ash trees. This area is classified under tax-forfeited land, so it's collectively owned by the State of Minnesota. There's an agreement among the neighbors that we all will do our best to keep the paths clear of brush and fallen debris. However, there are no rules or guidelines whatsoever about using four-wheelers on the paths. Everybody used common sense and was courteous to each other and to Mother Nature.

Everything appeared to be going well, until one day. Recently our path system was discovered by a set of 4 wheelers that are using it as a connection from one area to another. The racing causes an inordinate amount of noise and some serious damage to the area, which prompted the hindrance of the department of natural resources that stepped in and banned the use of ATV's in this area.

This has been a disappointment to those people who used our four-wheelers responsibly. When I mentioned this to some of my co-workers, I was amazed to learn a majority of them thought that all ATV trails should be closed. Many people see these trails as dangerous and harmful to the environment. I was astonished that they saw the four-wheelers as a bad thing. A good look at the situation ought to reveal the real culprits are those irresponsible people driving them.

The woods behind our home are much quieter. People still use the paths for walking and nature-gazing. The thing that still bugs me is that others are getting the message that four-wheelers are bad for Nature when the true message ought to be irresponsible people are really what is bad for the character. It is unfair that thoughtless behavior by some people is over — generalized and impacts the entire community. I love Nature. I love my four-wheelers, also. They can co-exist as seen on Caetla.