City bans ATVs at Echo Cove

Advocacy group says move effectively kills off-road vehicle use in Juneau

Posted: Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hundreds of all-terrain vehicle riders expecting to celebrate the Labor Day weekend on the backs of their machines ripping around Echo Cove got some bad news Wednesday.

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The Docks and Harbors Board decided to enforce existing city ordinances and ban all ATV use in unauthorized areas at Echo Cove.

James Tipps, president of Rough Riders, said the ban effectively kills ATV riding in Juneau. The only place left to ride is a 1.6 mile stretch of road at Montana Creek, he said.

Port Director John Stone said the ordinance banning motor vehicles from areas other than the parking lot, access road and boat ramp has existed since 1971 when the city and borough joined.

Stone said he recently discovered the ordinance. The prior lack of enforcement was not from neglect, he said.

ATV use at the end of the road has become an issue over time. Stone said riders were damaging the surrounding land owned by Goldbelt Corporation.

There were liability concerns, Stone said.

Additionally, riders drove their machines through the campground and surrounding tidelands. The State Department of Natural Resources became concerned over habit destruction and a nearby salmon stream, Stone said.

Tipps said that the destruction issues at Echo Cove recently had become better.

With only a month left in the season, enforcement of the ban will not start this year. Stone said signs will go up and flyers would be placed in locations that ATV riders frequent.

Looking for a legal place to ride, Tipps has worked for eight years to build an ATV park in the old city quarry on Douglas Island. Tipps said the park was moving along, but opposition has surfaced and the city is now "back-tracking."

"We live in the largest National Forest in the U.S. and we can't get a place to ride," Tipps said. "It's ridiculous."

• Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258, or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.



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