Rough Riders

Keep the ATVs: There are a lot of reasons why ATVs should be allowed to continue to ride in the Spring Creek area ["Keeping It Real," by Margaret Downing, September 16]. Also, please be aware that Senate Bill 155 (the law that bans ATVs and OHVs from most Texas navigable rivers and streams) is hurting our local economy, has eliminated one million acres of recreational use of public land from motorized vehicle users (according to a recent report by the General Land Office) and has left many off-road enthusiasts with little or no place to ride, despite the fact that the state of Texas received more than $2 million this year in federal (Recreation Trails Program) funding to build motorized trails for our citizens.

Professor Ronald Kaiser of Texas A&M recently submitted a report to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that provided the percentages of Texans who participate in these outdoor activities: 22.7 percent, developed camping; 16.3 percent, driving off-road; 15 percent, mountain biking; 12.1 percent, hunting.

These statistics should help illustrate the large potential for economic development if more off-road parks are created on public land in Texas.

Please be aware that many off-roaders from the Houston area have begun a new grassroots effort and petition drive to repeal SB 155 and to encourage county governments to create new ATV/OHV parks using already available federal funds.

Please go to our new Web site at www.GiveBackOurTrails.com for more information about our grassroots effort.

Happy trails.

Mike Kowis

Common sense: Surely those people are intelligent enough to know that they can cause environmental harm by running their ATVs and Hummers in Spring Creek and other areas. And you can add to that the great potential for pollution of the water supply for the city of Houston with oil and/or engine coolants. Don't they care how it may affect them and their families personally?

Spring Creek is navigable in fact, if not in law. As a member of the Houston Canoe Club and the Bayou Preservation Association, I've been paddling it for better than 20 years.

Name withheld by request

Cheap thrills: I appreciated your insightful article. As a Montgomery County resident who is concerned with preserving what little we have left of our natural resources, I find the problem valid and worrisome. The story seemed to give all sides of the issue an opportunity to comment. What I didn't see covered, though, was the serious problem of these scofflaws who are slowly destroying even private property owners' natural resources.

It seems to be a common practice for the ATV riders to carry chains and saws to clear trees that impede their progress on Spring Creek, regardless of the fact that the trees are on private property. I have heard several property owners comment about posting signs to discourage trespassing, only to have such notices ignored with seeming impunity.

Applause to the county commissioners and law officers who are working to control the situation. They will no doubt have to overcome ridicule from those who wish to continue destroying the creek's beauty for the sake of a thrill. I hope they will persevere in their efforts to contain these destructive riders to the property of those who condone such action. I doubt fines will be enough, and hope the arrests will continue.

The plan to make the creek a park for public enjoyment may be spoiled by those who are uncaring about loss of the natural beauty of Spring Creek and ignorant of the rights of others as they trespass. Since the number is growing, the hardest battle to control them may be ahead.

Thank you again for making more of the public aware of this growing problem. Changing behavior begins with changing minds. I hope that your readers will consider the need to change their minds about ignoring this problem as one of little consequence.

Teri MacArthur

Nature lover: Why not write an article on the good things going on at Spring Creek? It's not all about riding an ATV and drinking. Nor does it promote destroying a "fragile ecosystem." The majority are outdoorspeople who appreciate the land and nature. Hundreds of cars drive over bridges that cross Spring Creek, spilling more waste into the water system. A hundred years of ATV riding could not create that destruction.

Since moving here from Tulsa a year ago, I have found nothing but good people and good times riding on the creek. My entire family enjoys beaches that would otherwise be inaccessible. Being an avid mountain biker, kayaker and backpacker, I fully respect the land and nature. I have tried to bike and paddle Spring Creek, but it is impossible because of the shallow water and deep sand.

There will always be exceptions to rules, but we do our best to run people off who try to ruin it for the majority. Please, in any way possible, help us keep our trails. They will be used for many great family times and memories that I know my child will remember forever. Also, not to mention a strictly selfish reason: They are my refuge from the office.

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