Both Articles from the Orlando Sentinel Opinion Section
Share the forest
Our position: Reasonable limits on four-wheeling will open nature to more people.
Posted May 15, 2006
The Ocala National Forest doesn't belong to off-road-vehicle riders.
It belongs to everyone. Yet reckless abuse of the national forest by those who enjoy plowing through the woods in four-wheel-drive vehicles threatens to ruin the outdoor experience for everyone.
Until now, rough paths in many sections of the forest were considered open to off-road vehicles unless they were specifically marked closed.
Thankfully, national forest officials now want to turn that regulation around. They only want the motor vehicles allowed on paths that have been specifically marked as open. This approach already is being used in part of the Ocala National Forest and it needs to be expanded for the entire forest.
The change is badly needed because off-road vehicles have been responsible for causing damage to wildlife and plants within the Ocala National Forest and other public wild lands throughout the nation.
Groups representing off-road fans worry that the regulations limit their ability to enjoy their pastime. And they say they are being unfairly blamed for damaging the environment.
Yet many people, such as hikers, birdwatchers and hunters have complained for years about the damage and disruptions that off-road vehicles have been causing.
For the new plan to work, it's critical that off-roaders have adequate room to roam. Strict enforcement of the new rules also is essential.
2nd Article May 16, 2006
Four-wheeling looks like it offers riders a fun and exciting ride with plenty of thrills.
Recently the city of Orlando built a skate park where the boarders could enjoy their sport and take on the challenges, along with bonding with others who also enjoy this sport.
I think building tracks for four-wheelers to go and challenge themselves freely would be a help in reducing the number of riders who ride through the Ocala forest along with other areas in the state, ultimately destroying the native flora and wildlife we are trying so hard to protect.
Enforcing any restrictions that limit riding in native areas is time-consuming and a misdirected use of money that is already limited and should be used instead to study and maintain our Florida lands.