ATV riding was a topic during two county meetings this week.
The Potter County ATV/UTV Club spoke with the Potter County Commissioners about its mission and the pilot program that is being implemented with DCNR, PennDOT and others. The Northcentral Pa. ATV Pilot Project will create “connector routes” linking designated ATV trails across the area.
The ATV pilot region that was established under legislation was initially supposed to start before Memorial Day, but has been delayed due to signage and other issues, Will Hunt, county planning director, said during Tuesday’s county planning meeting. The pilot region includes Stewardson, Abbott, West Branch, Galeton, Pike, Ulysses, Sweden, Eulalia, Homer and Summit. The area will have connector routes that will utilize township roads. PennDOT has also agreed to open sections of state roads in logical areas, he said.
Between the connector routes and existing DCNR trails, there will be about 250 miles between Tioga and Potter counties, Hunt said.
“So there will be a connector into Coudersport borough, there’s intended to be a connector down to Germania, Cross Fork and there’s going to be a connector into Colton Point State Park,” Hunt said, as well as in Kettle Creek.
The phased project will occur over the next two or three years, he said. Under the legislation, a permit is required for anyone to ride ATVs on DCNR trails and established connector routes. It’s unknown how much that permit will cost, he said.
Brad Smith, Potter County ATV/UTV club member, said the club hopes to work with the county and newly-formed Potter County ATV Task Force. They hope to continue to promote safety and educate riders.
“We’re excited to be a voice for responsible recreation,” Smith said.
The club has about 780 paid members in the Potter County ATV/UTV club and has more than 30 business sponsors. Group rides are scheduled and they can show others how to get to trails legally. It can be difficult for riders to get from A to B, Smith said, so they want to make sure visitors know how to get to trails without illegally riding on state roads.
Education and safety are important components of the club. They want to make sure riders are wearing helmets, picking up after themselves and riding safely. Smith said the club “police themselves,” meaning they know most of the members and are able to approach them with any issues or concerns.
But local law enforcement is still valuable, especially for those repeat offenders and bigger issues. Hunt spoke of this during the county’s planning meeting on Tuesday.
The task force will include representatives from local law enforcement, PSP Coudersport, PennDOT, DCNR, local municipal officials, conservation district and more.
One thing he’d like the task force to look at is creating a centralized reporting system, similar to what the Game Commission has. People can fill out a form online to report any misconduct on ATV trails.“It’s not going to replace 911, but if you see a frequent issue with the same vehicle over and over again, you could potentially be able to go in and do that,” Hunt said.
Potter County is the only active county in the area that is taking a deeper look at ATVs, Hunt said. Though the county doesn’t have any jurisdiction, it’s important for it to be involved.
“The county doesn’t manage any roads or bridges or anything along those lines. But we certainly have components connecting agencies together to bring all the right people to the table. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Hunt said.