Activists Outraged Over ATV Legislation

An amendment slipped in at the last minute paves the way for an ATV park on state property.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Burning Rock

    ATVs could soon be legal to ride on some state-owned property; however, environmental activists are urging Gov. Dannel Malloy to veto the legislation.

    The Connecticut Forest and Park Association, the Connecticut Audubon Society and other environmental groups are upset that an amendment requiring the state to create an ATV park was slipped through in the final minutes of the legislative session, without a public hearing or a public debate.

    "We were really disappointed that could happen," said Eric Hammerling, Executive Director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.

    Now, ATVs are only legal to ride on private property in Connecticut. Hammerling says illegal ATV use has already been detrimental to some state parks and has outraged some park-goers.

    "That's an issue we think deserves a large discussion before it's implemented, not a last minute rat," he said.

    The original bill called for tougher penalties for the illegal use of dirt bikes on public streets, but that's nowhere in the final version.

    Instead, the bill requires the state to follow through on a 2002 plan to create a specific area for ATV use on state land. That plan was never implemented because questions regarding funding, maintenance, and ATV registration still linger.

    ATVs are popular in Connecticut. Those who use them are hoping the governor signs the bill into law.

    "They sell them in Connecticut. I don't know why there's nowhere to ride them," said ATV owner John Lollar of West Hartford. "I think it would be cool, something to do."

    The bill remains under review and no decision has been made on whether it will be signed into law, according to Gov. Malloy's spokesman Andrew Doba.