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The Environmental Impact of ATVs

Many believe all terrain vehicles (ATVs) can provide the ultimate outdoor experience. But with the ever-increasing growth of this sport, particularly in Maine and New Hampshire, the adverse effects to the environment and private landowners are also on the rise. Specifically, the malicious actions by a relatively few rogue riders have resulted in the following, much of which has occurred on private property:

  • Destroyed vegetation in non-trail areas;
  • Increased erosion;
  • Damaged sensitive wetland habitats;
  • Generated siltation into lakes and streams;
  • Damaged fish spawning areas;
  • Impacted water supply sources.

To address this issue, PNGTS spearheaded the formation of a group of concerned pipeline companies, electric utilities, water districts, State agencies, the Nature Conservancy, as well as ATV clubs and dealers that became known as the Responsible Riders Association (Association). The Association has pooled their experiences and resources for the goal of increasing a responsible ATV rider-ship for the protection of sensitive environmental resources and private property. Seeing a need for enhanced public awareness on issues, the Association has developed a series of educational videos / public service announcements (see links below). The primary messages of the videos focus on:

  • Riding only on officially designated trails
  • Avoiding utility rights-of-way, most are not part of official trail systems;
  • Getting permission from landowners to ride
  • Avoiding damage to wetlands and streams
  • Getting organized - form ATV clubs - create & maintain trails

Always remember:

  • Riding on private property without permission is trespassing
  • Permission to ride is not permission to destroy
Responsible Riders Association Links


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Unmanaged ATV usage as it is now occurring has caught the attention of governmental agencies and if the destructive trend does not change for the better, this sport will become highly regulated or worse, banned in many areas. In short, the Association is definitely not "anti-ATV," we are attempting to work with ATV riders to collectively develop a positive solution. No one wants ATVs to follow the pattern of jet skis, where their unruly use has ultimately lead to their demise.

Additional graphics of environmental damage caused by ATVs:



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Portland Natural Gas Transmission System
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