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  • Matt Breton

Erosion and Noise Pollution- A Rant

I could be described, at times, and accurately, as a curmudgeon.

One of my more recent pet peeves is motorized recreation, in particular ATV/OHV use. I also tend to get irritated with dirt bikes and jet skis. I've used these machines and even had fun on them, but typically after 5-10 minutes, it is mostly just noisy, stinky, and destructive.

I have neighbors who let their grandchildren ride for hours around and around the same loop on their property. I hope one of them gets famous and makes millions riding, but I doubt it will happen. I can't say anything, it is certainly within their rights as landowners. These same neighbors have now begun to ride up and down the road- illegal in our in town.

Mostly this irritation is selfish- I prefer quiet recreation and, of course, would like everyone to follow suit. This isn't realistic. I have good friends and relatives who do this and it brings them a lot of enjoyment. But....

I'm starting to draw the line. From an economic standpoint, states are building (allowing) more trails to encourage the recreational aspects, hoping to improve the financial situation of (often) rural area businesses and, in the long run, the robustness of their own coffers in the face of ever-dwindling business revenue in the form of taxes, especially in my home state of Vermont. For the almighty dollar, we trade our solitude, our quiet places and the earth itself.

I recently read that the furthest a person can get from a road in the lower 48 is 19 miles. That isn't very far- a person walking two miles an hour will get there in under ten hours. Everything and everyone is getting closer. Makes me feel claustrophobic. Noise pollution, light pollution, air pollution, soil erosion. When does it end? All of this impacts human health, as well as the health of all the other creatures we share this space with. The unceasing noise and the ever-present light create a stress response in a body that was wired for life 200,000 years ago.

So I ask, when are there enough roads and trails?

Where will we go when we need a quiet, beautiful place to think?

(A quiet lunch. No ATVs in the Bridger-Teton National Forest)

I'll go ride my noisy, stinky lawnmower for the next hour and think about it. Then hop in my truck and drive to a trailhead so I can hike to a mountain top and ponder. The answers aren't easy, but there are lines to be that I don't feel like a hypocrite.

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