Illegal ATV riding destroying state parks

STAFFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It is a beautiful day to be out in one of Connecticut’s 32 forests. But illegal cutting has marred state land and it is so common, no park has been left untouched.

Budget and staff cutting have reduced the amount of EnCON officers and Foresters on state land. There are only a half a dozen Foresters, and less than 50 EnCON officers to patrol the 170,000 acres of forest land in Connecticut.

They work hard, issuing riders 3-4 summons a week, every week, for the past year and a half. Will Hochholzer is one of the Foresters in charge of managing the land.

“They establish bank turns and they make ramps and jumps and platforms to land on, race platforms and when we find those we try and destroy them,” he said.

Hochholzer says riders cut long swaths of land then riddle them with gullies and grooves and troughs as they tear through on their ATVs and dirt bikes.

The illegal trails are dangerous to hikers, and disturb the peace as well. Hochholzer says it is very difficult to catch someone in the act of illegal cutting, so they’re asking for people on the trails to be their eyes and ears.

“If they see something that is going on, and they are concerned about the activity, please give us a call at the division of forestry and let us know the location where you see the activity, and we will certainly follow up,” he adds.

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