Tom and Cynthia Cloutier love spending time together on their porch and eating dinner on the deck overlooking the mountains. They also enjoy the peace and quiet of rural Vermont after retiring in 2018.
All that changed in the year that followed, when a section on their road was made accessible to all-terrain vehicles. He said that they would often hear ATVs coming down the road when they went outside.
Tom Cloutier stated that “Overnight, our Silver Ridge (Road), became a superhighway for ATVs.” We could hear the machines from our house, but we couldn’t have a conversation outside.
A town official stated that the trial, which began in Morristown in 2019, ended in January after a complaint. A group of ATV riders is asking the town for permission to reopen a section of the road, along with other roads, so they can fuel up, park in a motel, and eat at local restaurants. They would be able to connect to a nearby community that allows ATVs on roads.
Their community has been added to a growing number of rural communities that have or are looking to open their roads to ATVs. Some take advantage of the economic benefits of outdoor tourism.
As the pandemic swept through, ATV interest has increased. However, their popularity has led to residents being pushed against riders. Communities are struggling to find the right balance between the benefits and the loss of tranquility.
At a July meeting on the Morristown proposal, Lisa Desjardins, an ATV rider, stated that “our vision for our community should be accessible to everyone.” It shouldn’t be just for those who ride bikes or who run. It should be available to everyone, regardless of whether or not you enjoy ATVs.
According to Scott Schloegel (senior vice president for government relations at the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association), ATV sales rose by more than 33% last year. ATVs are not allowed on-road unless they connect to trails. He said that this increase in sales leads to more interest in public lands with trails, and a higher demand for maintenance and new trails.
According to the office of Governor, even though the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, a 1,000-mile trail in West Virginia, was closed for two months during the pandemic last year, it sold nearly 65,000 annual permits last year. Officials said that Jim Justice and the number of ATV permits available to Maine residents increased by 6%.