PUBLIC LANDS – They’re vandals on wheels, stealing the common from the wildlife and the public.
Off-road vehicle drivers have the capacity to do serious long-term and even permanent damage in minutes with the thoughtless use of their machines.
The land carnage by four-wheel drive and ATV enthusiasts is not uncommon on public lands.
I was reminded of this last night while hiking around Antoine Peak, the mountain that forms the backdrop for East Valley High School. More than 1,100 acres of the mountain have been secured over the last few years through the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program.
It’s a spectacular wildlife refuge. I saw turkey vultures, hawks and ravens soaring over Antoine’s 3,373-foot summit and wild turkeys and quail on the ground – all within minutes. I saw deer, elk and moose tracks while looking over the Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake.
But I also saw the rampant recent damage by off-road vehicles, which are prohibited in the Antoine Conservation area. These are probably the same people who disregarded the no trespassing signs on the land when it was still privately owned.
Buying one of these vehicles does not come with a license to destroy public land and wildlife habitat. The law should require visible license plates so the public has a way of reporting the vandals when we spot them in action.
There destructiveness is undefendable. It's selfishness on wheels.