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Letters, April 19, 2012

Ban ATVs on WMA lands

“ATV enthusiasts” seeking to “defend public access to public land,” assert a right to use the Mars Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and all Crown lands as playgrounds, but those rights don’t exist in law.

WMAs are protected areas. Manitoba Conservation states, “Wildlife Management Areas exist for the benefit of wildlife and for the enjoyment of people. They play an important role in biodiversity conservation and provide for a variety of wildlife-related forms of recreation.”

ATV use in Mars Hill is contrary to biodiversity and conservation. ATVs tear up the ground, harm plants, damage aquatic habitat, disrupt wildlife, interfere with and drive away other users like hikers, horseback riders, cyclists, researchers, and birdwatchers. They claim they’re willing to share the land but no one wants to go on it while they’re driving over it at top speed.

I keep recreational ATV users off my farm because I know how much damage they cause. ATVs can be a useful farm tool, but are destructive when used for fun.

The Manitoba Public Access Land Group is concerned about a precedent being set for all Crown lands if ATV recreation is restricted or banned in Mars Hill. If they get their way, what’s next? A right of access to, or designated trails on, Crown grazing lands so cattle can be terrorized by joyriders?

Recreational ATV use on public lands must be banned. Conservation has to stop taking “a balanced approach,” recognize ATV activity is incompatible with other uses, destroying Crown lands, and enact specific laws to deal with the problem.

The ATV lobby should stop looking for a “free ride” at the expense of other benign users, farmers and protected areas. ATV’ers should use their own private land to play on (and ruin) and leave public places alone.

Ruth Pryzner

Alexander, Man.

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