ATVs Fun Or Foe

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

bed and stream bank erosion. Such erosion can be caused by an off-road vehicle racing through a stream bed or up and down the stream banks. Increased turbidity, or murkiness, blocks sunlight and inhibits the growth of plants that are the most important food source for aquatic insects, worms, crayfish and other animals that, in turn, become food for fish, other aquatic animals and some terrestrial animals, like herons and raccoons.

In addition, this fine sediment often settles to the bottom downstream from the damaged area. Once-deep holes become shallower and warmer. Spawning habitat is covered by sediment, and increased water temperatures make conditions unsuitable for game fish, such as smallmouth bass.

ATVs also can degrade streambank integrity. The vegetation along the banks of a river or stream helps hold soil in place during floods or high water levels. Once this vegetation is damaged or uprooted by an ATV, serious erosion is likely. The land most likely to be lost-by you or your neighbor-is bottom land, the most productive and valuable acreage on most properties.

Given the amount of damage they can cause, it makes sense to keep ATVs away from streams, even on your own property.

There are established trails set aside for ATV use in Missouri. For information on established trails, visit the Midwest Trail Riders Association Web page at.

A little knowledge and courtesy will protect the environment, keep you from getting a fine and enhance your enjoyment of your ATV.

The ATV Operator's Pledge

A unwritten code of ethics governs much of hunters' behavior afield. Likewise, ATV ethics rely on an honor system. The ATV industry and user groups consistently encourage responsible use of ATVs. They suggest ATV riders pledge to adhere to a code of ethics similar to the following:

  • I will respect public and private property.
  • I will use only ATV-designated areas and established trails.
  • I will respect the rights of all outdoor users.
  • I will not litter.
  • I will not operate an ATV in a river or stream.
  • I will respect stream-side vegetation and its importance to the stream.
  • I will respect all natural areas and minimize my impact.
  • I will obey all laws pertaining to the use of off-road vehicles.
  • I will always think about safety.

Three Rs

  • When operating an off-road vehicle, remember the three Rs:
  • When you ride for Recreation,
  • always ride Respectfully
  • and Responsibly

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