Few ‘bad apples’ cause problems, ATV rider thinks

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articlesexploring the controversy surrounding ATV use on the FairRiver.

MONTICELLO — Fair River flows slowly across northwestLawrence County, meandering through what many call the prettiestcountry in the area.

The river’s cool waters are flanked by a lush forest and, inplaces, tall bluffs. It’s depth ranges from several inches toseveral feet, depending on location and recent weather conditions.It’s white sandy beaches are ideal for building castles orsun-bathing.

And all of these factors make Fair River a great place toride ATVs, many say.

“It’s so pretty there. We all envy the landowners,” saidChris Walker, who has ridden his ATV on the river since1987.

Walker, who has permission from the landowners where herides, said the present controversy about the river has causedseveral to stop enjoying it’s beauty.

“A lot of people don’t go out there because of thecontroversy and attention — and they have permission (from thelandowners),” he said.

Walker said he understands the concerns of landowners, butthinks that only a minority of the riders cause problems. Manyriders have gained a bad reputation because of the actions of afew, he said..

“The Fair River is like anything else, you have your goodpeople and your bad apples,” Walker said. “Everybody hears aboutthe riders drinking and carrying on, but it’s not likethat.”

The media have helped give riders a bad reputation, he said,with their portrayal of the controversy and an event earlier thismonth where a landowner allegedly shot and seriously injured an ATVrider on his property. That case is still pending trial. Walkersaid television media coverage of that event was especially biasedin favor of landowners.

Walker, who is married and will become a father in October,said many riders enjoy taking their families with them and turn theouting into a family affair, complete with picnics and sports. Manyriders also pick up their trash when the outing is over, hesaid.

“I’m 34 years old and feel like a kid when I’m out there,”he said. “I would love for my kid, 10 years from now, to be able toenjoy what I enjoyed.”

ATV riders are attracted to the river for a variety ofreasons, he said. It provides ideal terrain for several differenttypes of riding. The river has deep holes and shallow crossings forriver riding, and after spring rains the force of water changes itssandbars and bed for a new riding challenge.

It’s white beaches are ideal for evening riding because theyreflects moonlight.

Walker admits some riders are not considerate of thelandowners, but he said he has never had any complaints in the areawhere he rides. And, if there was a complaint, he would abide bythe landowner’s wishes.