Berne board is in search of get-rich-quick schemes to cover budget woes

To the Editor:
The Berne Town Board is bent on making the town an ATV destination. Check out the draft law on Lewis County, New York, with an area of 1,290 square miles and a total population of 26,573, is providing a model.

Berne, with a population of 2,689 in a county of 313,743 people, has an area of 64.73 square miles. The Berne board in search of get-rich-quick schemes to cover budget woes has dreams of hefty revenues from ATV use permit sales bolstered by huge ATV rallies.

But how it is going to collect those revenues is not at all clear. Go to to read the draft law, in particular part J. of Section 5. Rules and Regulations:

“J. Town of Berne will integrate with a partner Organization to manage membership/credentialing program. Partnering organizations will be mandated to give the Town of Berne quarterly membership updates.”

What does “integrate with” mean anyway? And how many “partner organizations?” And since when do “quarterly membership updates” mean payment of funds to the town? Sounds to me like handing over land management to ATV dealers and enthusiasts.

Lewis County on its website is up front about who is paying for its estimated 500 miles of trails: “The Lewis County OHV [Off Highway Vehicles] Trail System has been built through the collaboration of many entities but the bulk of the work, maintenance, organization and annual expansion is done by the Lewis County Recreation, Forestry & Parks Department.”

The county receives all permit fees and (I’m sure fervently) hopes they cover their costs.

Whatever the rules and regs, compliance will be voluntary. There is no way in the world an ATV trail system can be effectively patrolled. For now, that system in Berne would be our town roads.

People live and visit Berne for its spectacular scenery, quiet country roads, and expanses of public lands. Take a look at this video on and imagine the vision the Berne board has for the town: “Knight ATV Addicts Take Over Tug Hill, New York!!”

Is Berne their next destination?

Mary Ann Ronconi


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