I was shocked and dismayed to read Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming’s article “ATV sales riding high as Mainers long to get outdoors” (July 26, Page A1).

If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, the one sure lesson is that the scaling back of human activity has lowered pollution levels. All-terrain vehicles are not good for the environment. The principal emissions from motor vehicles are greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. The principal greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, but vehicles also produce the greenhouse gases nitrous oxide and methane.

Not to mention that “ATVs and wildlife do not mix,” as the Adirondack Council has noted, and that “ATV impacts include noise disturbance, damage to vegetation, increased runoff, soil erosion and degradation of water quality. Wildlife also suffer from all of these impacts.”

I’ve seen all of this firsthand while trail riding with my horse. I know my dogs and horses are frightened by ATVs. I can’t imagine what wild critters are experiencing when the noisy, smelly machines go tearing through the woods, even if they go slowly.

Damaging habitats, degrading water quality and scaring wildlife are not letting riders be “able to connect with the outdoors” (as a new owner of an ATV told the Telegram). To connect with the outdoors, take a walk, smell the smells, feel the peace and quiet and know that you are in harmony with nature.

I recall a remark from author and outdoorsman Edward Abbey that goes something like this: You can’t experience wilderness from atop a machine.

Doris Luther

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