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Nature Lovers Should Look Fondly
November 22, 2005
Background: A news item reported that a metal gate at the entrance to a pedestrian nature trail had been destroyed and dragged away. A suggestion in the article that ATV users were likely responsible was met with an indignant reply from an ATV club. The club also suggested that making trails multi-use (i.e. allowing ATVs on them) would cut down on vandalism. The following is a response.
Indeed, it is wrong to assume it was an ATV user who smashed a gate on the Cataraqui Trail and then removed it with cutting torches and heavy equipment. I'm sure it's just as likely that the gate was destroyed by walkers or birdwatchers keen to enrich their trail experience by adding the excitement of sharing it with ATVs.
As a hiker myself, I know that 'multi-use' trails are good for everyone, but especially the walkers. Walking is good for the cardiovascular system in its own right, but all the more so when the heart rate surges as it does when leaping out of the way of an ATV or snowmobile as it roars up behind the stroller. And even those birdwatchers who are forced off the trail by ATVs, benefit because they need never fear being lost in the woods. Thanks to ATVs, the roar of the engines and the sweet smell of exhaust fumes will always be there to lead them back to civilization and safety.
I admire the work that the Frontenac ATV Club has done to gain access to public roads, but I would argue that the spirit of multi-use should not be limited to the little trails such as the Cataraqui and the K & P that wind their way through the woods. Just as walkers can co-exist in harmony with ATVs, so too can tractor-trailers share their space on Highway 401 with ATVs. It's true that ATVs are a lot slower, but I'm sure the truck drivers can learn to be just as considerate and tolerant as the ATV riders have always been with the walkers. And just think how terrific it would be for all the local economies along all the superhighways.
And for those nature lovers who think that roaring engines are a disturbance to wildlife, they couldn't be more wrong. A steady stream of motorized vehicles keep the deer and grouse alert and in shape, qualities they'll need during hunting season.
So as the holiday season rolls around, this is one walker and twitcher who will stop by the side of the trail and wave a friendly greeting to the next ATV or snowmobile rider that roars on by. And the next, and the next