NO ORVs, PLEASE!
Save your local woods!
ORVs (Off-Road Vehicles) (also referred to as OHVs [Off-Highway Vehicles]) are designated as any vehicle
used over areas that are trails, marshes, and beaches; basically anyplace other than public roadways. These
vehicles include ATVs, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, etc.
Did you know? The 97th Amendment of the Massachusetts State Constitution gives persons the right to,
"clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and access to the natural, scenic,
historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment." (MA Audubon Sanctuary Magazine Winter 2007-2008)
The people that write to us in support of the Off-road Vehicles keep repeating the same things over and over,
they just want to "use" the property, or they have the "right" to use the property, too, or we are just selfish and
don't like the noise, etc.
This site is full of facts, not what WE want, or what WE think. We did not invent this issue and we cannot
control it! You CANNOT advocate for the wildlife AND for the motorized vehicle use, it simply doesn't work that
"Driving an off-road vehicle has severe consequences for the surrounding landscape. There is no way to drive
a vehicle across an unpaved road without in some ways adversely affecting the surrounding landscape." (PCL
"Dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, and other off-road vehicles are major sources of air,
water, and noise pollution nationwide. And they rank among the most serious human-made threats to safety
and health on public lands and waters." (The Wilderness Society)
"Even a single vehicle pass can destroy or disrupt many types of plants and shrubs." (Wilshire 1983, Lacey
et al. 1997)
"By just driving through an animal's territory, ORVs affect the health and living conditions of many animals.
Animals are disturbed by the noise, they are displaced by the lack of terrain, and they are limited in available
food as the plants they eat are destroyed." (PCL Foundation)
Below are pictures of the woods and wetlands near our home, identified on the 2006 NHESP Priority and
Estimated Habitat Map as, "NHESP 2006 MA Priority Habitat of Rare Species," and it is on the DEP Priority
Map as an "Estimated Habitat of Rare Wildlife in Wetland Areas and Permanently Protected Open Space."
As you can see, ORVs (Off-Road Vehicles) have done a great deal of damage to this area.
|Jumps are constructed from digging up the woodlands.
|Damage to a small stream
||Deep grooves and tracks in the open areas.
|Above: Turtles have been laying their eggs here for years, and the habitat quickly degrades with ORV use
There are established facts about the use of ORVs/OHVs type ORV/OHV) and ORV use:
-Death of species by direct contact with the ORV (either by getting hit directly and/or crushing nests/eggs of
turtles, birds, and other species)
-Destruction of native plants that native wildlife depends on for food and shelter
-Soil erosion and soil destruction
-Overgrowth of invasive species (they are the only plants that can survive such harsh conditions).
Over time, a complete destruction of both the native plant’s and wildlife’s ability to live within that environment
occurs from ORV use. Many resources can be found to further detail the negative effects of illegal ORV use
on our environment. Look again at the pictures above - how could anyone ever try to tell you that ORVs don't
harm the environment?
Another unfortunate side effect of the ORV use seems to be wildfires. Whether it is from unauthorized
campfires while riding and partying, or directly from the ORVs themselves we cannot always tell, but we have
found multiple burned patches and fire pits in these woods. A lot of people's homes are nestled around the
borders of these woods, and a large fire has the potential to wipe a lot of us out completely
*Note: We are sure there are many good people who ride ORVs, and ride ONLY in designated areas, we think
they would likely be horrified to see what our local "enthusiasts" are doing.
WETLANDS AND OPEN SPACE PROTECTION SHOULD NEVER BE A CHOICE. WETLANDS PROTECTION
IS THE LAW. It is up to the town to ENFORCE, as contractors would fill wetlands all the time if they could just
complain and get their way!
Support a ban!
"Off-road vehicles such as dirtbikes and ATVs cause major impacts to wildlife and fish habitat and native
ecosystems in the remaining wild areas of the National Forests. The machines can permanently harm trails,
soils, and native plant communities." (The Sierra Club)
"Ecological effects must be the first and foremost consideration in making management decisions. Desires for
recreational access cannot take priority over protection and conservation of natural resources on public
lands." (The Wilderness Society)
"...Unmanaged recreation, including ORV use, as one of the top four threats to the health of national forests
across the country." (U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth)
"Relevant scientific literature...found it demonstrates that ORVs cause significant and severe direct, indirect,
and cumulative impacts on the environment, including wildlife mortality, habitat loss, erosion, soil compaction,
destruction of stream bank stability, impairment of water quality, and other effects." (The Wilderness Society)
"Off-road vehicle use contributes substantially to the degradation of our remaining wildlands and must be
considered in the same category as logging, road construction, oil and gas development, and mining. The
impacts of ORVs are pervasive, very widespread, affect many ecological values, and are growing each year. If
ORV use continues to grow unabated in our wild areas, critical wildlife habitats will be degraded and native
plant and animal populations will suffer, particularly rare species sensitive to human disturbance." (The Sierra
"ORVs have a wide range of adverse effects on many species of wildlife." (Joslin and Youmans 1999,
Defenders of Wildlife 2002)
"Wetlands are highly prone to damage from off-road vehicles." (The Sierra Club)
"Revegetation, and recovery may take many years." (Rowlands 1983)
"The force of rolling wheels on soil can cause compaction, which can have serious, long-lasting effects
including decreased water infiltration, increased runoff, and severe erosion problems." (Webb 1983)
No matter the argument (the areas will grow back, it isn't hurting anything, the damage is minimal, the damage
is done, there is no effect on the water or wildlife, the soil is different here, etc), whatever you can throw at us;
we can find dozens of articles that will tell you that you are wrong. This is a serious issue and needs to be
curtailed and addressed appropriately and immediately.
To ORV Riders:
PLEASE, teach your children the RIGHT things about the environment and nature! ORV riding is fun and we
have no issue with riders who respect the environment. No, we did not always think this way - we care and so
we educated ourselves! You do not have to believe us, do your own research, and LEARN something.
DO NOT ride ORVs in unauthorized areas! The negative effect you have is more than you realize!
Report illegal and unauthorized ORV use in your neighborhoods to your local officials, and keep reporting it
until something is done!
Having an ORV problem? (the links below mostly refer to Massachusetts, but most places have similar sites
you can find)
1. Check the land on the Priority Maps - Click here for MassGIS - Online Mapping - it is possible that even
private land may have restrictions on it's use such as Conservation Restrictions or Deed Restrictions,
Endangered Species, or Protected Wetlands. Also check to see who owns the property in question.
2. Check the Environmental Laws to see if they are breaking any specific laws.
Massachusetts Recreational Vehicle Safety Laws.
Click here for another more comprehensive listing of ORV regulations.
3. Contact your local authorities, including the police, Board of Selectman, Conservation Commission, and
possibly your local Health Department. Get their opinion on the specific restrictions and regulations in place.
4. Contact state local and state officials and ask for stronger regulations on the use of ORVs.
5. Talk to family, friends, neighbors, everyone you know, and make a concerted effort to appeal to your town
and state governments to put a stop to unauthorized ORV riding.
6. Most town do have noise restrictions in place, and your 97th amendment of the Massachusetts State
Constitution is supposed to give persons the right to “clean air and water, freedom from excessive and
unnecessary noise, and access to the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment.”
(MA Audubon Sanctuary Magazine Winter 2007-2008).
7. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is the main regulatory agency for ORVs.
You can contact the Environmental Police by calling them at 1-800-632-8075 to report riding in illegal or
8. Especially if a wetlands violation is occurring, contact your local Department of Environmental Protection
and also the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
9. In a few instances we have read, when the riding is completely legal and there is not much you can do,
sometimes mediation of time restrictions or other restrictions in regards to the use of these vehicles can be
instituted. This is obviously not the best solution for many, but sometimes there is not much else that can be
done if they are riding on private property and obeying all the laws.
10. Take photos, videos, and keep meticulous records of everything you've done and everyone you have
contacted, when they ride the ORVs, where they ride, what they do, etc. Start keeping this record from the
minute you begin your "fight."
11. If you are within your legal right and your town does not do anything, just keep writing and talking to
anyone and everyone who will listen, and DO NOT QUIT, no matter what. Win or lose, your cause is worthy!
Massachusetts State Offices and Information
|Is this what you want YOUR environment to look like?