ATVs: Destroying the Climate and Environment for Fun


another "poker run"

It was a strange meeting of different worlds. Two weeks ago 127 ATVs from a club in the next county tore up our roads on a "poker run" fundraiser for a local volunteer fire department. This isn't legal in our municipality and was incredibly loud and disruptive, so we called the police. Since the local police chief didn't want to arrest the local fire chief, they sent an articulate representative to apologize, sort of.

Because he didn't have much to apologize for, just the use of a short stretch of Muskoka municipal road that he thought was still in his county. The law in Ontario says that Crown land is open for any use; the government, which is owned by snowmobile inventor Bombardier and sublet to the various parties in power, promotes snowmobiling and ATVing as recreation and tourism lifelines for otherwise dying communities, and lots of people up here like their motorized recreation. Politicians don't mess with them if they want to get elected; it is only us summer city types who hug trees, they chop them up here.


On our side we had two local trappers from families working these woods for four generations, who say that every time a new ATV trail is cut, the noise and the fumes drive the animals further away. We had the year round home-schooling family that built a life up here, searching for quiet and peace, (and who lent me the bandwidth to be able to spend two glorious months in the woods this summer) but find it disrupted year round by snowmobiles and now ATVs, jeep clubs and dirtbikes.

The friendly and conciliatory ATV guy says, in the end, that we have to "grin and bear it"- his club has a land use permit letting them ride trails on crown land agreed to not by the Ministry, not by the government, but with HRH Queen Elizabeth II herself and we could suck on that. They won't do another poker run here, but those are nice trails (the FSC loggers just left) and they will be back to ride them.

I get that people need cars to get to work. I even get that our local trapper has an ATV to get to his trap lines.

But does anyone need to burn gas to pound through pristine forests, destroying habitat, wrecking trails and scaring animals and people alike? I don't think so.

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