Monday, November 03, 2008

ATV Violations on Taconic Crest Trail: Help document occurrences; ie Berlin Mountain to Green Hollow, Saturday and Sunday afternoons...

The DEC is looking for help in identifying where and when people are illegally operating any type of motorized vehicle on State lands, including ATVs, in particular on the Taconic Crest Trail on the Taconic Ridge State Forest. We want to be able to better predict where violations will occur, so that we can more effectively schedule enforcement patrols in the right places at the right times.
First, some background information:
The definition of ATV under New York State Law includes dirt bikes, three wheelers, and four wheelers. In a nutshell, any member of the general public operating an ATV on any public land in New York State must be on a trail which is officially marked for use as an ATV trail. If you see someone operating an ATV or other motorized vehicle on the Taconic Crest Trail on DEC property, they're in violation of the law. Both Vehicle and Traffic Law and DEC Rules and Regulations prohibit such use of DEC lands.

First and foremost we want to stress that it's the Forest Ranger's job, along with that of Environmental Conservation Police Officers and other sworn law enforcement officers, to confront violators. We don't want members of the public to confront the ATV operators, mostly because we don't want anyone getting hurt. We've heard stories in the not-so-recent past about hikers getting into heated arguments with ATV operators in the field. That sort of incident is neither safe nor productive. I understand the urge to let someone know when they're violating the law, but it isn't worth getting into an ugly or dangerous scene. For what it's worth, virtually every ATV operator already knows it's illegal to ride on DEC lands anyway.

What I would find useful would be for people to report the following information:

1) the time, date and location of the sighting, as precisely as you can describe it;
2) the number and type of ATVs or vehicles, along with any descriptions of machines or operators;
3) direction of travel of the machines when sighted;
4) any other information or ideas you may have which you think would be useful in determining where the ATVs came from or went to;
5) the identity of the operators, if known.
6) your own personal contact information, so that we can re-contact you for clarification if needed;

Please report any sightings of illegal ATV or motor vehicle operation on DEC lands to our toll-free 24-hour DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook at

You can also reach me at my office at (518)-686-5317 or by email at <>

I've been asked about whether photos of the ATVs and/or operators would be useful. Obviously photographic evidence can be very useful, however I have concerns. Taking a picture of someone while they're in the commission of an offense might be perceived by the violator as a provocative act . That's the kind of provocation I want to discourage, so I have to suggest that photos are not necessary.

This basic information is what we would find useful to 'pattern' the illegal ATV use on any DEC property, so if you know of any other location where illegal ATV use is occurring, these suggestions could apply there also. I hope this answers your questions, and I thank you for your time and your concern.

"Protecting Lives and Resources"
Joseph C. Hess
NYSDEC Forest Ranger
PO Box 309
Hoosick Falls, NY 12090-0309


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