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ATV riders, landowners must seek compromise

Does the debate between landowners and all-terrain vehicleriders on the use of Fair River, as detailed recently in a seriesof stories published in The Daily Leader, signal anotherproblem?

Think about it.

Does the debate between landowners and all-terrain vehicleriders on the use of Fair River, as detailed recently in a seriesof stories published in The Daily Leader, signal anotherproblem?

Think about it.

As national and local populations continue to swell, public landavailable for recreational use is dwindling. It’s not hard to seehow these two factors could lead to more confrontations in thefuture if the issue is not settled soon.

Add to the mix the increasing amount of “free” time among theworking class derived from technological progress, and the problemonly grows.

The major factors influencing public land use tend to be thetrend toward selling or leasing public land to increase funding forthe public body — whether that be city, school district or othergovernmental entity — which owns it.

Locally, this issue seems to bear on the case of Fair River andits use by all-terrain vehicle riders. The river has been declaredpublic by the state, but the banks are private property. It can beargued that the bed of the river is private as well.

Both sides here stated their discontent with the controversy,and both seek to find an equitable solution. So far, they have beenunable to do so.

Most landowner’s believe the answer to be, essentially, thedeclaration of the river as private property. That’s an answer ATVriders hope to avoid.

Riders would like to see an answer that virtually leaveseverything as it is now. That answer is intolerable tolandowners.

Both sides, meanwhile, have moderates who encourage compromiseas a solution. They believe that if ATV riders abide by thelandowners’ wishes, then landowners would be more agreeable inallowing them to ride on their property.

Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No. Many of the landownerswill not let ATV riders use their property regardless of attitudeor riding habits.

One step to resolving this issue would be enacting a state lawthat leaves no room for debate. Parties on both sides of thisissue, if they truly want to see it resolved, should encouragetheir state legislators to seek a solution.

Putting more state laws on the books should be a last resort.But, with the recent shooting of an ATV rider, which was not thefirst such incident in this area, it is clear that a solution tothis problem must be found soon.