Letter to the Editor: To enhance Yellow River State Forest ... while protecting the integrity ... : Not in favor of ATV/UTV use

To the Editor:

The mission of the Friends of Yellow River State Forest is: To enhance Yellow River State Forest for public use while protecting the integrity of the flora, fauna, soil and water. We, as the Board of Directors of this organization dedicated to Yellow River State Forest, would like to go on the record saying we do not support any ATV and UTV use on County roads within the State Forest.

Time and time again, visitors to Yellow River State Forest (YRSF) say the reason they come here - often from long distances - is for the peace, quiet, tranquility and serenity this place offers. The horse campgrounds at YRSF are very busy places on weekends in the summer, and loud machines and horses often don’t mix well. Allowing the noise of UTVs and ATVs to permeate every corner of the State Forest will not result in economic growth - in fact, it will result in fewer visitors and the dollars they bring here.

Yes, UTV and ATV use can attract people to the area, but they already have more than 680 miles of County roads they can travel on. No one is not coming here because they can’t ride these machines in the State Forest.

The noise these machines will bring into this public place would defeat the very purpose of the State Forest and be incompatible with the people already enjoying Yellow River State Forest through hiking, horseback riding, biking, fishing, hunting, backpacking, camping, bird watching, and many other low-impact activities that allow people to enjoy the outdoors in a way that does not destroy and distract from it.

Those who come to Yellow River State Forest with their families to enjoy the natural world and appreciate the quiet and solitude would look elsewhere. The sound from ATVs and UTVs easily carries over long distances, especially in the valleys.

We would gain much more as a countywide economy and community if we worked together to preserve the natural world around us and bring in others to take notice and appreciate the natural wonders we have to offer. Providing more access to fishing, camping, hiking, horseback riding and other more compatible activities would bring in more dollars in local purchases and the possibility of bringing in more residents as well.

YRSF is home to uncommon birds and it is a designated a  globally significant bird area. The noise and traffic will harm this fragile ecosystem. You would be amazed at the number of people who come here for birdwatching.

There is one park ranger for nearly 9,000 acres. It will be impossible to keep UTV and ATV riders on the trails where they belong if they are allowed in the State Forest. Both State Forest Road and Donahue Road have multiple access points to trailheads.

There will be problems with them using the overlook roads, Firetower Road, and the campgrounds, which are State highways and cannot be used (per State law). Donahue Road is a multi-use trail - machines that can go 30-plus miles an hour have no business being on the same paths as families who are hiking and riding horses. It simply is not safe. Sharing the trails with noisy machines will create a dangerous, if not deadly, situation.

Yellow River State Forest is a special place, a quiet place. Please do all you can to keep it that way. The world needs more quiet places, not fewer! In the interest of all the lives this may negatively impact, please work to see this does not happen.

We too live here and want the best for this county and the communities within it. Thank you for your time and continued efforts to make Allamakee County a better place.

The Friends of Yellow River State Forest
Board of Directors,
Scott Boylen, President
Wendy Morris
Kelli Boylen
Joe Vastine
Cindy Heffern

 

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