ATV users face fines
They can be a lot of fun, but they can also wreak havoc on the environment.
That’s why the recreational use of all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, is prohibited on TVA-managed public lands.
Unauthorized off-roading occurs on TVA property year-round, but the effects are most easily observed during the winter months when reservoir bottoms are accessible. Areas around primitive campsites and along stream banks, nature trails, and remote service roads may also be impacted.
“People may not fully realize the extent to which their recreational sport damages the environment,” says TVA Land Use Representative Kenley Austin. “We’ve seen several instances where vegetation is mangled, wildlife habitats are destroyed, and the soil is severely eroded.”
Austin says there can also be conflicts between ATV users and others who enjoy authorized recreational activities on TVA-managed lands: “In some areas, campers have stopped using primitive campgrounds because of ATV noise. And at a public meeting to discuss land use around Pickwick Reservoir, hunters turned out in force to protest ATV use on private acreage leased for hunting only.”
According to Austin, there are a few instances where ATV use is permitted — typically for emergency services, authorized agricultural and timber activities, and fire suppression and prevention. “Whether the land is public or private,” he says, “ATV users should assume it’s off-limits unless they have received permission and/or a permit.”
TVA has posted notices in local newspapers and erected signs prohibiting the use of ATVs in areas where previous usage has occurred. Ignoring the rules can have consequences, says Austin. “Local law enforcement and TVA Police officers are issuing warnings and citations, which can carry fines of up to one hundred dollars.”
Most ATV users are quick to comply when they are made aware of the rules, says Austin. “And the good news is that in most cases the environment gradually recovers once the off-roading stops.”