PROSPECT — The tracks the Prospect Land Trust wants to see in its open spaces are those made by wildlife and humans. The tracks it doesn’t want to see are those from motorized vehicles.
Prospect Land Trust member Lisa SanSoucie was hiking and doing a routine inspection in Kathan Woods on Aug. 20 when she noticed faint tracks from an all-terrain vehicle on the blue trail that runs through the land.
“It is hard to determine how recent they were or where they were originating from,” SanSoucie said.
Kathan Woods is an 82.1-acre piece of open space located off of Boardman Drive. The blue trail that runs through the park is approximately 3 miles long.
It wasn’t just the tracks along the trail that caught SanSoucie’s attention. Portions of a two stone walls that run through the property were dismantled to allow the ATV to pass, she said.
“The concern is, besides the fact they aren’t supposed to be on property, [ATVs] cause damage to the trail system which can cause erosion. The dirt bikes and ATVs tear up the hiking trail and when it rains water rushes through track. What used to be a gentle footpath turns into an area of eroded path,” SanSoucie said.
SanSoucie said the land trust has started to put the stone walls back together and clean up the tracks from the ATVs. In addition, the land trust has hung signs up reminding people that motorized vehicles are not permitted in Kathan Woods, or any of the six other properties the trust oversees.
“We want to catch something before it escalates,” SanSoucie said.
Prospect police Lt. Nelson Abarzua said last week the department hadn’t heard of any recent incidents of people riding ATVs. The most recent incidents took place a few years ago, he said, when the department received complaints that people were riding along the Prospect-Waterbury town line.
Abarzua said residents are only legally allowed to ride ATVs and dirt bikes on their own property. People caught riding dirt bikes on either public or private property can be charged with criminal trespassing and, if they damage anything, destruction of property, he said.
SanSoucie said Kathan Woods is exclusive for passive recreation, which includes activities such as hiking and birdwatching. For the most part people follow that rule, she said. The trust had problems with people hunting on the land two years ago, she said, but was able to put a stop to it.
SanSoucie said she hopes that whoever drove their ATVs through Kathan Woods simply made a mistake and won’t be coming back now that signs are posted.
“I just want them to understand that Prospect Land Trust properties are for passive recreation,” SanSoucie said.