Connecticut's NEMBA Chapters respond to Hartford Courant Article

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Below is a Letter to the Editor to the Hartford Courant regarding their September 21, 2016 article "Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem" written by NEMBA and its five Connecticut NEMBA chapters.

---------------------

Hartford Courant
Letters to the Editor
285 Broad St.
Hartford, CT 06115

September 22, 2016

Dear Editors of the Hartford Courant,

Below is a response written by five Connecticut chapters of the New England Mountain Bike Association regarding Gregory Hladky's September 21, 2016 article, "Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem." We hope that you publish it in its entirety.

Mountain bikers can be part of the solution

We thank Gregory Hladky for reporting on some of the important issues facing our state forests and public lands in Connecticut, “Illegal ATV Trails in State Forests a Growing Problem.” Indeed, there is a delicate balance between preserving and protecting habitat and providing public access for recreation, and illegal trail use and trail building are serious issues.

The New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) works closely with the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to steward public trails and improve the quality of trail experience for non-motorized recreation. We have five active NEMBA chapters in Connecticut whose volunteers dedicate 1000’s of hours to maintain trails and educate and assist all trail users. When issues arise that relate to mountain biking, we work closely with local land managers to find solutions. NEMBA opposes unauthorized trail building and works in partnership with DEEP to create legal and sustainable trails. Like hiking, mountain biking is a sustainable and legitimate form of recreation in Connecticut’s state forests and parks.

Unauthorized trail construction is a significant problem but it is nothing new -- probably over half of the state’s trail inventory are legacy trails that were created by informal use. Enforcement is important to help prevent illegal trail building, but perhaps even more important is the need for DEEP to partner with non-motorized trail organizations, such as NEMBA, to improve the quality and quantity of recreational trails so that the general public doesn’t take matters into their own hands. We need both the stick and the carrot.

It is our experience that increasing the amount of legitimate trail use reduces the amount of illegal trail use, and we look forward to increasing our partnership with local land managers to improve and protect the trails for everyone.

Philip Keyes
Executive Director
New England Mountain Bike Association
www.nemba.org
800-576-3622

Cory Stiff
President
Southeastern CT NEMBA

Glenn Vernes
President
Central CT NEMBA

Jon Regan
President
Northwest CT NEMBA

Ryan Tucker
President
Fairfield County NEMBA

Stacey Jimenez
President
Quiet Corner NEMBA