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Published June 21, 2011, 08:25 PM

Some Concerned Over Pembina Gorge ATV Trails

Lack of enforcement of ATV use is the reason many landowners in the Pembina Gorge say they are against a proposed new state trail. On Tuesday, the North Dakota State Parks Department held a meeting in the gorge to talk with residents about their concerns.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Lack of enforcement of ATV use is the reason many landowners in the Pembina Gorge say they are against a proposed new state trail.

On Tuesday, the North Dakota State Parks Department held a meeting in the gorge to talk with residents about their concerns.

Property owners who attended the meeting say they already have a problem with ATVs destroying property, and feel there will only be more of the same if the state builds a trail especially for them.

The Pembina Gorge, near Walhalla, the North Dakota's park and recreational department plans to build an ATV trail to ultimately run about 80 miles and link the gorge with the Turtle Mountains.

Not all property owners are on board with the project.

"We had 60 four wheelers on a ride last summer and they ripped up state property and nobody was ever prosecuted, nothing was ever done. And they were in my wheat field," farmer Jeff Amoth said.

Amoth was one of about 20 property owners voicing concerns about the state's trail at a meeting with the North Dakota State Park Director Mark Zimmerman.

"Most of the trails that we are going to develop are on our land, owned by the state of North Dakota and easements that the private landowners have signed. They want the trails on their land," Zimmerman said.

But many landowners here say the trail will only bring more ATV riders and potential property damage.

"You wouldn't drive on anybody's lawn in the city, why drive through a man's wheat field on a farm. The problem is that we have no one to enforce them to stay on the township road. I own land on both sides of this trail. I'm right in the heart of it," Amoth said.

"I would like to see that demonstrated first, the enforcement, and do that before they build a trail. If they regulate what's here now, then further it," property owner Mike Ratzlaff said.

Zimmerman believes building a state trail for ATVs will bring in more enforcement. He says that it worked that way in the past for snowmobile trails.

"For safety, as well as violations on the trails, it's worked. It's taken some years, so we feel, being in the gorge, good trails, good law enforcement, it's going to come around," Zimmerman said.

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