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Destroying Things For Everyone



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To the Editor:

The following open letter has been received for publication in The Newtown Bee.

To whom it may concern,

You are destroying things for everyone...

Last weekend I had the opportunity for the first time in six months to go mountain biking. I live in the northern part of Sandy Hook and frequently ride along Al’s Trail (the Newtown Trailway which stretches from Reed School to Upper Paugussett State Forest). The specific section I frequent is from Walnut Tree Hill Road northward. Al’s Trail crosses many properties; from Walnut Tree Hill Rd northward land owned by Newtown Forest Association, Newtown Open Space, The Nature Conservancy, FirstLight, and McLaughin Vineyards.

To my dismay on my ride I discovered extensive motorcycle damage. Except for McLaughin Vineyards all of these lands specifically posted “No Motor Vehicles Allowed”. Al’s Trail is also restricted use and McLaughin Vineyards, although privately owned falls under CGS § 14-387 and has legal restrictions regarding operating of off road vehicles.

The environmental degradation caused by the illegal use threatens wildlife in both the forest and lake.

I am specifically sensitive because mountain bikers are often accused of causing this damage. The fact is scientific studies show environmental degradation caused by hiking is generally equivalent or more than that caused by mountain biking, and both are substantially less impacting than motorized activities. Nonetheless bikers are blamed for motor vehicle damage. A recreational cyclist has about ¼ of a horsepower ... a hiker ½ horsepower; a two-cylinder engine has 15-60 horsepower. It is the powerful horsepower off-road motorcycles that produce heavy damage to trails … 60-300 times more … yet mountain bikes get accused of damaging trails. Experiencing so much baseless opposition to mountain bikes, the last thing I want to do is to interfere with another person’s recreational enjoyment, but motorbike users are destroying things for me and all other cyclists.

The Newtown Trailway is managed by Newtown Bike & Trail Committee and Newtown’s Land Use Agency but it is not exclusively on town land. The trailway crosses private land and is subject to permission granted by the landowners. When you rip up the trails with your motorbike you jeopardize the town’s arrangements with the landowner which destroys things for everyone.

Off-road motor vehicles (which includes ATVs, quads, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles) are legally permitted on private land in Connecticut ONLY with the landowner’s written permission. That is the law. Off-road vehicles can cross from one piece of private property to another, but otherwise cannot be operated on public roads. They also cannot be operated legally on wetlands and other environmentally sensitive land regulated by the state and local municipalities.

That said, if you would like to create space for motorized off-road enthusiasts … Just last month I wrote to the Newtown Bike and Trail Committee and asked them to consider making a place for off-road motorized riding. I will work with you to advocate. Step 1 would be to get off-road motorized enthusiasts to organize (like NEMBA) to advocate, educate, and self regulate.

Peter J. Cloudas

Sandy Hook

A letter from Peter J. Cloudas.
Comments are open. Be civil.
1 comment
  1. mjvande says:

    Nonsense. Mountain bikers do much more damage than hikers, due to the knobby tires and longer distance travelled. DUH!

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