WEST MILFORD — Township officials have taken drastic measures to stop ATV and dirt bike riding in West Milford, sparking a fair amount of pushback from the public on social media.
Trees were cut down in order to block access to a popular, undisclosed spot, where West Milford Police said riding and increased traffic was destroying the surrounding forest and prompted at least 134 complaints from the community in the past year.
“Give the people a legal riding area,” was a widespread response, among dozens of commenters on the police department’s announcement on Facebook.
Several commenters who questioned whether the town could find a compromise and allow riding in a designated area said that riding quads and ATVs gives teens and young adults a hobby that's healthier than sitting indoors.
At least a couple of others said that spending time and money on bike and quad upgrades was a much better alternative than falling into illegal drugs.
Others point to the lack of significant open space for such regulated riding in the state.
“The states that have legal ATV use, have parcels 10x bigger than any state park in NJ,” one commenter, Mike Ellis, said. He also noted that local horseback riding trails recently had been taken over by ATV riders, torn up and eroded.
Police also noted that the area's proximity to a number of local homes added to the frustrations and the ultimately extreme "solution."
However, backlash over felled trees has been shared by those local residents as well as ATV riders, as reported by NJ.com.
Adding insult to injury, the operation was carried out to coincide with Earth Day, the same report said.
It's not a new issue, as West Milford Police issued an ATV enforcement memo in 2014, warning riders to steer clear of the township-owned open space property known as "Random Woods."
"There will be a zero tolerance policy for motorized vehicles including ATVs, Dirt Bikes, 4WD vehicles, etc," the memo said, with potential penalties of summonses, fines or criminal charges.
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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