|Off-Road Vehicle Group Tries to Make Case for Mount Greylock Trails |
|By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff|
02:14AM / Tuesday, July 28, 2020
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Advisory Council sees no way it can allow legal off-road vehicle access to the mountain.
The council had one agenda item Thursday during a remote meeting and only discussed ways to resolve illegal ORV use on the state reservation, including designated areas where it would be legal.
"I don't have any opening remarks but I think we should just listen to what everybody has to say and ask questions," Chairman Cosmo Catalano said.
Eric Fox, president of the Patriot All Terrain Club, shared a lot of the same concerns of the council and felt if there were designated areas to ride on the mountain there would be less illegal riding in protected areas.
"We would like to share these experiences with families who like motorized recreation and inspire them as well so we are asking to explore providing access and designated areas," Fox said. "This would avoid user conflict and alleviate unauthorized riding in sensitive areas."
Fox said his riders to follow the rules and properly register their vehicles. That is why they created the group — to help police the community and encourage compliance.
He added that it would add another user group that can help maintain the trails and support the mountain. This would draw more people to the mountain, he thought, and the trails would be accessible to other user groups.
Scott Morill, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' off-highway vehicle coordinator, said there are state resources available to ORV and cited the Recreational Trails Program in which 30 percent goes toward motorized recreation groups to improve trails. He said the lion's share of this goes to snowmobile groups and that the state wants to bring more all-terrain vehicle groups into the fold.
"We are trying to find ways to create opportunities for these people so they have places to go," he said. "... It is hard to tell people not to use a trail when they have nowhere else to go."
Council member Gary Trudeau said has been speaking to ORV riders in the area and noted many say they ride on the reservation even though it is illegal.
"They all said they ride on Greylock ... they knew it was illegal but knew we would never catch them so stopping the problem is not going to stop it," he said. "Enforcement is not going to work. You might catch a few but you won't stop the majority of them."
Trudeau said he saw an opportunity for a fruitful partnership with the OTV groups and felt they could easily develop a trail network around the base of the mountain.
Fox said this would be optimal and that they have no intention riding toward the summit of the state's tallest mountain.
"There are just some spots that are too dangerous for a wheeled machine heading up towards the peak," he said. "That would not be on the table it's not safe for the riders."
Council member Heather Linscott agreed that it was impossible to police the illegal riding but felt allowing it at all would only further the problem.
"They do what they want. A lot of them are kids ... You go to the north part of the [Greylock] Glen and it is no man's land," she said. "I feel like what you are doing is inviting a bunch of people to come here with ATVs and as soon as you establish a trail, it will be a conduit for people to come in and do what they want."
She added that she felt ATVs were too destructive for some of the trails.
Council member Joe Rogge said there are a few "bad apples" but that is enough to destroy a trail. He thought any trail development would have to be discussed in great detail.
"If all riders followed the rules they could ride just about anywhere but the problem is they don't follow the common-sense rules," he said. "I have seen it in the winter. Our snowmobile club will groom a trail and some yahoo, and it is only 10 percent, will tear that trail up."
Becky Barnes of the Department of Conservation and Recreation added that 80 percent of the reservation is protected and there are very strict guidelines that would certainly outlaw motorized vehicles. She said these guidelines ensure that a natural process takes place on many of the trails. She noted they often cannot even trim the trails during certain parts of the year.
Reaching the end of the discussion, Catalano asked for a motion.
Trudeau motioned that they give the ORV clubs permission to develop a trail network at the base of the mountain for the council to consider.
Catalano said no one needs the council's permission to develop a trail network. The council only would step in to discuss implementation.
Committee member Edward Carman said he really didn't think the council had any say in the matter.
"I don't think there is anything before us that requires a motion," he said. "I don't think there is anything that is in our purview and not DCR's. There is not anything for us here to opine on."
The motion was not seconded.