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Finally an article that tells BOTH sides of the story....

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:59 am
by rblank
I'm kind of impressed the ProJo ran a rather neutral article. I'm more shocked that RIOHVA actually did something. I urge everyone to sign up for the ProJo's website (it's free) and make positive comments, especially you RI residents! What's the worst that could happen, we get a new legal place to ride?!
JOHNSTON ? Two local police officers inaugurated the town?s first all-terrain vehicle police patrol on a bright Saturday afternoon, donning helmets, fatigues and reflective gear, and mounting a pair of new Polaris four-wheelers equipped with shotgun holders.

Within 15 minutes, the officers had encountered a few of the suspects: a group of trespassers riding their own ATVs on the sandy access road that circles the great slopes of buried trash at the state?s Central Landfill.

Over the years, the leafy woods on the outskirts of the landfill ?? and numerous other rural areas across Rhode Island, both public and private ?? have been torn up by riders who openly flout heightened penalties for such trespassing and sometimes evade police officers driving cruisers or four-wheel-drive vehicles.

After securing a $17,000 federal homeland security grant, the Johnston police have equipped their force to change this equation and landfill officials say it appears the department?s new ATV patrols have succeeded in deterring motorized trespassers.

Still, local police officers, and others familiar with the situation, say that discouraging ATV riders from trespassing on landfill property hasn?t really solved the underlying problem: the popularity of ATVs and dirt bikes and the scarcity of safe, legal places to ride them.

?Whoever?s been riding at the dump, they?ve been chased somewhere else,? says William Haas, an ATV safety instructor and board-member of the Rhode Island Off Highway Vehicle Association. ?You?ve moved them from the dump to someone else?s backyard. They?re still there. They didn?t burn those ATVs.?

An ATV is a vehicle with four wheels, a seat that the rider straddles, and handlebars. The machine?s engine can range in size from 3 to 61 cubic inches.

The only place to legally ride an ATV or dirt bike in Rhode Island is on private property with the express permission of the owner. ATVs and dirt bikes are not permitted in any of the state management areas, but riders continue to test the authorities: Department of Environmental Management officers have caught ATV and dirt bike riders riding illegally on state property on 26 occasions so far this year.

JOHNSTON Police Officer David Slinko Jr. and Deputy Chief David DeCesare launched the town?s first ATV police patrol in May.

Despite the no-trespassing signs, the 1,200-acre landfill property has been an enticing riding spot for a long time.

The ATVs and dirt bikes find gaps in the patchwork of fences on the fringes of the property. The placement of large boulders along unfenced areas, and near the gates of various gated access roads that connect the property to town roads, has failed, too. Every time one path is blocked, trespassers blaze a new trail.

On one occasion in 2006, Slinko arrived at the scene of a crash involving two ATVs at the landfill. He found about 25 people joyriding at the site. The two injured riders, and three others who stayed around, were cited, but all of the others vanished into the nearby woods.

But this time, the trespassers ventured closer to Slinko and DeCesare, curious about the newcomers with the black machines. The riders were too far away to decipher the ?Johnston Police? lettering on the fenders of the town equipment.

At about 20 feet, DeCesare says, they recognized the police. Most pulled tight U-turns and sped away in a successful evasion. But one, a 14-year-old straddling a $6,000 dirt bike, bungled the turn and crumpled to the ground.

The boy was cited for violating the town?s ordinance regulating recreational vehicles and charged with trespassing. Under the local ordinance, his 2008 Kawasaki was confiscated in advance of his hearing in Municipal Court.

The landfill?s overseer, Michael J. OConnell, executive director of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, says the facility?s security team has reported five incidents involving ATVs since the patrols began in May.

This is more than 50 percent less than the 12 incidents between March 1 and May 23, he said, and he believes it represents far less activity than the property experienced at the outset of other summer seasons.

JOHNSTON isn?t the first town where police officers sometimes mount off-road patrols; the police in Coventry and Charlestown have deployed ATVs for many years.

Donations from local businesses helped the Charlestown police procure two four-wheelers and use them to deter motorized trespassers in the Woody Hill Management Area, said Col. Jack Shippee, who added that the machines also help officers patrol local beaches.

The DEM has the most experience with off-road machines.

The department?s law enforcement division has four ATVs and uses them on patrols in state management areas. So far this year, environmental police have issued 54 warnings to riders for offenses ranging from improper equipment to driving their machines on state property, to failing to properly register equipment. Another 38 riders have been cited and fined. One rider was arrested and charged with reckless operation and eluding.

Meanwhile, the DEM has been charged with enforcing some new state laws that took effect in 2008, including a requirement for dealers to register off-road vehicles such as ATVs and snowmobiles whenever they sell them.

As of Nov. 1, 2008, 108 vehicles were registered and another 34 have been registered since then, according to a DEM spokeswoman, Gail Mastrati.

DEM STAFF also see the damage that off-road vehicles sometimes inflict on the environment. Some forested parts of the management areas are crisscrossed with rutted dirt trails from ATVs.

?We see measurable landscape damage, particularly in the remote management areas,? Mastrati said.

Nicholas Gorham, a former state representative, is especially fond of land along Carbuncle Pond in western Coventry. His parents donated the pond to the state, which eventually acquired the surrounding land and created the Nicholas Farm Management Area.

?It?s now been carved up into a big maze of ATV trails,? Gorham says. ?It?s truly sad. All illegal.?

Before he left the legislature last year, Gorham helped pass the law that required ATV dealers to register the machines and also established fines of $250 and $500 for riders who repeatedly violate DEM regulations.

There are lots of points of disagreement between Gorham and Haas, a 69-year-old rider and high school teacher who provides ATV safety training to the Johnston police.

However, both men see one thing clearly.

?I think there?s a problem in Rhode Island because people buy ATVs with the expectation that there is a place to use them,? Gorham said.

Says Haas: ?The problem I see is the State of Rhode Island does not provide any basic riding areas for kids.?

?What we have is a lot of kids raising hell,? he added. He talked about the typical teenager who persuades his parents to buy him a machine.

?He?s instantly an outlaw,? Haas says, ?because there?s no place for him to ride it but his bedroom.?DEM AND ATVs

ATV incidents handled by

Environmental Police in 2009:

?Riders not wearing a helmet: 8

?Unregistered ATVs: 38

?ATVs on highway property: 2

?ATVs on state property: 26

?Riders on private property

  without permission: 15

?Riders illegally crossing streets: 2

?Riders trying to elude police: 2

Source: Rhode Island Department

of Environmental Management

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:09 am
by Scott Hatch
We were fixing it at the same time.


PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:11 am
by tammylynn
:lol: :lol:

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:14 am
by rblank
I tried like 4 times and it wouldn't let me do it. :? Kept getting that "DEBUG MODE"

Thanks guys.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:40 am
by tammylynn
rblank wrote:I tried like 4 times and it wouldn't let me do it. :? Kept getting that "DEBUG MODE"

Thanks guys.

For the eleventy billionth time, you make the thread. Then post it. Then go back in and Edit your post by copying and pasting said article. You probably will still get the error message but when you go out and check your post it will probably show up. Sheesh...some people take forever to learn.

Yeah, Scott had to show/tell me several times before I got it. :lol: :lol: :lol:

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:04 pm
by rblank
oh...... :oops:

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:06 pm
by tammylynn
No need for blushing. Sad however that this is getting more discussion on NEOW than here.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:05 pm
by rblank
That's because most of the "discussion" is political distractions, and not really much about the article.

I typed a comment in the poll, but apparently I was too long winded because it hasn't been posted.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:50 pm
by tammylynn
Hmmm, shocking.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:42 pm
by rblank
Not really.....

Where's my OSJ playas? :wave:

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:05 pm
by axle
I cant log in?