Unwelcome ATVs, trucks damaging new recreation trail

By Tom Venesky

July 18, 2013

WRIGHT TWP. — Scott Everett was happy to see a few bike riders using the newly opened D&L Trail’s Black Diamond section in Wright Township on Thursday.

But he wasn’t happy about the reason that brought him there.

Everett serves as the trail manager for the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, one of the groups responsible for building the trail that opened on July 8. Everett was at the trail this week to survey and repair recent damage caused by vehicles.

When the property for the trail was purchased by the federal government in 2001, a stipulation was that it be off-limits to motorized vehicles.

“We’re building a trail on land that’s been open to the locals for years and years, and it’s hard when the rules change,” Everett said. “There’s always a period of time when people think they can still use it the way they have been.”

Everett said there are signs posted prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles.

The trail — a 10-mile stretch that runs from Mountain Top to White Haven — is patrolled by the Pennsylvania Game Commission under a cooperative agreement.

Wildlife Conservation Officer Dave Allen said the damage, which included fences being knocked down by pickup trucks, occurred Sunday night between 7 and 8 p.m.

In addition to the fences, said Allen, ATVs damaged the trail surface and also attempted to create new trails on adjoining private property. The incident was witnessed by a bike rider using the trail at the time, he added..

“The person didn’t call it in right away or I could’ve responded immediately,” Allen said. “From what the witness told us, there were multiple ATVs, possibly six, and two full-size pickup trucks.”

Allen said he does have a few leads and is continuing to investigate.

Meanwhile, Everett and several volunteers were out in the heat Thursday to repair the damage. The trail will remain open during the repairs, and the incident didn’t really surprise him, he said. Similar problems have occurred on trails in White Haven, Lehigh Gorge State Park and the Lehigh Valley.

“When a trail opens, there’s always a period of time for the public to adjust to the restrictions, and the problems eventually go away,” Everett said. “This is typical of that pattern.”

The Game Commission and Bureau of Forestry will continue to patrol the trail, he added.