Off-Roaders, Greenies Spar Over Western Lands
ATV-riders also vie with quieter nature lovers
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2007 4:36 PM CST
ATV riders hit a trail Thursday, March 29, 2007, on the Hatfield-McCoy Trails near Gilbert, W.Va. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System totals over 500 miles of off-road trails in nine southern West Virginia...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Outdoor enthusiasts are bickering with the feds and each other over the use of federally owned lands in Colorado, Utah, and Montana, the New York Times reports. Off-roading fans of motorcycles, pick-ups, and ATVs are butting heads with quieter explorers who hike or ride horseback and want to preserve the landscape—and the federal government is caught in the middle.

Greenies argue that people should stay off the terrain to protect fragile soils and wildlife. Last year, the rock formation Factory Butte in Utah was closed off in order to preserve cactuses. But off-roaders, who lobby the feds to have trails kept on maps, portray themselves as old-fashioned nature lovers. Environmentalists "think it has to be kept in this pristine state," one motorcycle shop owner said of a forest on the Montana-Idaho border. "These people don’t even use it.”