A Corps news release said that neighbors of the off-road vehicle area have lodged complaints of trespassing, vandalism and excessive noise. The news release also cited an insufficient budget and lack of a staff to manage the area with “inherent environmental impacts” hastened the decision to close the facility. It added that the area would remain open for other activities such as hiking, bicycling and hunting during hunting seasons.
The Cadiz Record contacted Kayl Kite of the Corps of Engineers to elaborate on the nature of damage to the land and the nature of the complaints lodged against the riders. Kite said that the area had not been set up to allow easy access to the area designated for off-road-vehicle use on an interim basis. He said that with high water in the lake, many users entered the area by cutting through private property. He said that by doing so, riders created tension with local landowners.
Kite said that neighboring landowners had complained of trespassing as riders have ridden through while others hunted on their land and had ignored trespassing warnings posted on lands.
“We’ve had complaints of drivers operating on the road even after dark. It’s a safety concern plus a noise factor to deal with,” said Kite.
According to Kite, the issue of vandalism in the area may or may not be attributable to ATV riders. He said that unknown persons broke headstones in a nearby cemetery and damaged the fence around it. He said that he could not be certain if ATV drivers were responsible for the damage or litter in the highly used area.
“We are trying to monitor erosion problems with the trails, but the riders are making their own trails now. They are tearing down the cane and crossing streams. The trash is not a major concern, but we are looking at the environmental impact and vandalism on adjoining property.”
With a group of riders enjoying the muddy trails of Linton on Sunday, Eric Jenkins of Benton said, “I don’t think closing the area is a good idea at all. This is about the last public place we have to ride for free. It might be a good idea to educate riders where the boundary lines are. Most of us know, but some of the new riders might not. If they close this down, I don’t know where I will ride. It’s a long ways away, maybe Bowling Green.”
Read more on the proposed closure of Linton's ATV area, and reactions of riders in this week's Cadiz Record.