Md. Eyes ATV Trail Closures, Tighter Enforcement

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) —  The Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday it’s considering closing the state’s most popular off-road vehicle trail, an 18-mile loop in western Maryland’s Green Ridge State Forest, as part of a plan to curb environmental damage and illegal riding statewide.

Other recommendations include tighter enforcement of illegal trail riding, possibly with higher fines, and an increase in the $15 annual fee that Maryland charges to ride all-terrain vehicles on state forest land.

The agency is accepting public comments on the recommendations through April 30. DNR officials said they will discuss their findings with ATV users and other interested parties invited to a meeting Wednesday in Owings Mills

The agency’s 90-page report said that of 221 authorized trails across Maryland, 41 have been highly impacted by factors including damage to rare, threatened and endangered species or sensitive habitats.

“Our primary mission is to properly manage and protect the natural resources on the lands we oversee,” DNR Secretary John Griffin said. “However, we are also very much interested in providing sustainable recreational opportunities on our public lands for a wide spectrum of outdoor experiences.”

Riding on both authorized routes and hundreds of unauthorized trails has mushroomed in the last 20 years. In the early ’90s, the state sold about 500 permits annually for the Green Ridge trail; last year, it sold 2,182, a more than fourfold increase, according to the report.

The Green Ridge State Forest website lists a tentative trail reopening date of March 28, but State Forester Steven Koehn said the DNR hasn’t decided whether the trail will open at all this year.

The report says the Green Ridge trail could be replaced with a relocated trail that would “provide ecological benefits to the Green Ridge ecosystem while offsetting the human safety and DNR capital impacts of the current trail system.”

The state also is mulling closure of the Poplar Lick trail in the Savage River State Forest, closure or relocation of the Burkholder Trail in the Potomac-Garrett State Forest, and relocation of parts of the Chandler Trail in the Pocomoke State Forest, the report says.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • atvsAHYEAH

    aww i rode there when i was a kid…i crashed down a hill my first time, but awww mannnn

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  • David R. Weimer

    Closing ATV Trails in Western Maryland would be a big mistake. Western Maryland has one if not the highest percentage of residents to own ATV’s in the state. If these trails are closed you would be taking away one of their most enjoyable outtings that these residents enjoy. Other states such as West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Mass have developed and maintain ATV trails in their state and are receiving monatery benifits from their residents as well as out of state riders. It seems that we are taking two steps backwards in Maryland and forceing our residents to go outside of Maryland to enjoy riding ATV’s when we have a beautiful scenic area’s here in our own state.

  • Ernest Dinning

    There was over $21000 of funds collected from this 1 location. With the economy in as poor condition as it is why would you close off this area? I understand the need to protect sensitive areas, plants and the like. Why not modify the trail to bypass the sensitive areas? Is there a volunteer system in place to help educate the users of this property? I would be more concerned that with this property closed there will be people that will still illegally access this area. This could cause an even bigger problem with the enforcement of the closure.

  • RiderGirl

    Please Please Please keep Green Ridge open!!!!! What can we do to stop this? We’re causing no harm and pay good MONEY to ride and camp here. We can’t let these Greenies take our fun away from us! UGH I hate this! I just wanna RIDE!

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