A decision by officials at Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama to ban ATVs as of today isn't setting well with some state lawmakers, who are looking to legislate a way around the ban.
Preserve officials say they are merely trying to conform to a decades' old Executive Order that officials at Cape Hatteras National Seashore ran afoul of and wound up being sued over: In 1972 President Nixon directed the National Park Service to draw up management plans for off-road vehicles in each of its units. Without such a formal plan, the vehicles are banned.
“We understand this announcement will be disappointing to many people in the community who are used to being able to drive their all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on the preserve’s roads,” preserve Superintendent John Bundy said last month when he announced the ban. “This change is necessary, though, to ensure the preserve is complying with federal and state laws.
"... In the past, we have closed environmentally sensitive areas to ATV access in order to fulfill our resource protection obligations,” the superintendent added. “After consulting with legal counsel and many stakeholders about this important issue we determined that, to be in conformance with the law, we can no longer permit ATV use in the backcountry or on park roads.”
Superintendent Bundy added, though, that if the preserve develops a Backcountry Management Plan, it possibly could "identify some locations or trails for ATV/ORV use that does not impair resources. That would allow them to return to the preserve in a limited fashion.”
But some Alabama officials apparently don't want to wait for the preserve to get around to developing such a plan. State Sen. Lowell Barron told the Gadsden Times that if he wins re-election this fall, he will seek a legislative solution to the ban.
"I'm hoping that we can come to an arrangement where they (ATVs) don't have full access, but they have access in certain restricted areas of the preserve," the lawmaker told the newspaper.