Lake Barkley Lake Manager Mike Looney called upon the crowd to show respect to Corps employees, adjacent landowners and riders. “We are here to hear what you think about this, not to answer questions.” He added that Corps employees circulated sign up sheets with attached comment cards that could be mailed in with questions. Looney said that attendees submitting cards could expect an answer for all questions in four to six weeks.
According to Looney, the Dry Creek-Linton riding area covers 975 total acres though is not a part of the Linton Recreation Area, including a boat ramp, beach and picnic area. He said that the Corps gave legal permission on an interim basis to use the Dry Creek area for off-road vehicles in 1978.
“Since the mid-1990’s, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in riders and complaints,” said Looney. “The number one complaint has been trespassing on private property, but we have seen erosion, sanitation issues, and destruction of habitat. The Corps is responsible for the protection of the land and that leaves us with no alternative but to close the area to off-road vehicle use. The gate for the unloading area will be locked on Monday.”
As the area is closed by the Corps, Looney warned that riders disregarding the closure could expect to pay a $275 fine if caught. “Just because we have closed it for off-road vehicles, doesn’t mean we are closing it to anything else. If people wanting to hunt, fish or hike in the area, that is fine. Just because it is closed to ATV’s now, doesn’t mean it will always have to be.”
Looney called upon riders to organize into a group and accept responsibility for the stewardship of the off-road vehicle area and to manage fellow riders to prevent trespassing, vandalism, unsafe riding practices and destruction of property.
After his brief address, Looney opened the floor to public comments, asking Trigg Sheriff Randy Clark to keep a time limit for speakers to three minutes, and to keep order during the hearing.
Linda Johnson spoke first, saying she represented an organization of over 60 riders, including children in western Kentucky. “To think that we can’t ride makes me want to cry. Four-wheelers are not the only ones breaking the law. We have people drinking and driving or boating, and we’re not shutting down boat ramps.” She introduced a child who said that he regularly removed his trash and garbage left by others from the site.
James Kilcoyne, who lives immediately across the highway from the riding area said that riders opened his gate, crossed his property and resumed riding on other land. He added that as ridership increased, noise levels increased. Kilcoyne said that several riders had illegally entered the road. After a story in which Kilcoyne had been quoted in the last edition of The Cadiz Record, he said that ATV riders drove their truck onto his driveway and loudly revved the engine.