Get Off The Grass!
City Aims to Cut Youth Dirt Bike Use on City Property
May 5, 2021
A citizen committee is in the process of being formed to address complaints about youths on dirt bikes disturbing the tranquility of homeowners north of Glasgow.
Dirt bikers are a common sight in the undeveloped area between Airport and Skylark roads, and have been for decades, residents say.
Now, a large portion of the city owned parcel of land there has been closed to public use due to liability issues and allegedly poor behavior by some riders. That leaves only the 40-acre recreation area one mile north of the city, owned by the Bureau of Land Management, open for off highway vehicle (OHV) use and motorcycle enthusiasts. A fence marks the boundary of the OHV area, which can be reached via Rifle Range Road.
In the meantime, the city has ordered about 20 no trespassing signs — at a cost of $2,500 — to be posted along the roadway to the OHV area. The signage aims to prevent off road enthusiasts from straying onto the tract of city owned land.
Additionally, non-street-legal vehicles must be towed to the OHV area, and kids without valid driver’s license are prohibited from driving to the area.
The closure of the city land to off road use drew the attention of about 30 area residents, who came to the regular city council meeting Monday evening to express concerns publicly.
“I live like five minutes away from the OHV, so do you expect our parents to trailer us there?” Ian Anderson, a youth who rides his off-road vehicle in the area, asked the council members during the meeting.
“That was the agreement that parents would be involved with their kids,” Mayor Becky Erickson replied. “I can’t say it is OK at your age to be driving your dirt bike down the highway. You can ask law enforcement.”
The law states no one can drive on the roadway without a license, said Tyler Edwards, Glasgow Police Department assistant chief.
Edwards also said the riders should self-police once in the OHV area.
“Right now, my suggestion to the riders, and the sheriff’s suggestion, is to start being a little smarter, drive slower, start thinking about how you are driving by property owners. People are getting flipped off. Maybe policing ourselves out there too would help.”
Valley County Sheriff’s Depart Undersheriff Chris Richter agreed.
“We’ve had a lot of complaints on Skylark Road and Airport Road,” Richter said. “I think some vehicles have gotten chips in their windows when passing dirt bikers on the road. We have been out there trying to talk to the kids and the dirt bikers about riding out respectfully. We want you guys to be able to go out and have fun, but with that some of the dirt bikers are still revving their engines, driving fast on the roadways. We are at the point of no operating on roadways if it is not a street legal dirt bike or if a kid doesn’t have a license.”
No citations have been issued as of Monday, but tickets may be given going forward if the situation does not improve.
The varied topography offers challenging climbs and natural launches for experienced riders as well as flat areas and gentle slopes for beginners, according to BLM.
That is not actually the case, Austin Svingen said Monday during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“That BLM area up there is great if you are a more advanced rider. But up top, there is a gravel section and a steep hill. That BLM area really isn’t suitable for smaller kids to go learn on. They can’t learn on giant hills and areas like that. Plus, the BLM area is a very small area. You can ride across it in three minutes.”
Instead, Svingen has used the grass section for training purposes, and has himself ridden that tract of land his entire life, he said.
Chris Knodel, an area resident who also has been riding in the off road area owned by the city his entire life, expressed irritation over the closure.
“I learned how to ride around here, and one thing I have loved about this community is the ability to ride,” Knodel said. “We continue to get pissed on, and things get shut down.”
Complaints of unruly children on dirt bikes were brought to the attention of the city council during their regular meeting on April 19. While that public meeting was in session, area resident, Roy Jimison, told council members he possessed cell phone video of youngsters disrespecting his property. The Courier could not verify the veracity of Jimison’s claim because he declined to publicly disseminate the video.
“I feel their main complaint is noise and they have upped this complaint,” Svingen said.“It would be like me buying a place by the swimming pool and when they have swim meets [saying] ‘it's too loud.’”
Svingen said he is not sure where to take his nephews for training after the closure.
“It is difficult when we have been riding in that giant city area forever and now we are going to close it off because of a few complaints? Every area around here has been closed off. They closed the area behind the armory. There are no trespassing signs there. So now we are going to lock them down to this little tiny area of riding that is not even suitable for young kids? That is my main complaint on it.”
Svingen said the bad actors responsible for the unruly behavior should be addressed without punishing the other well-meaning kids.
“Realistically, you should go to the kids that are the problem and solve the issue, not just doze the whole program. I don’t see why the city can’t have a chunk of land suitable for kids to use. We are closing off an area of land four times as big as the BLM area and it is not suitable for smaller kids.”
“I do agree with you,” Erickson replied. “Let’s find out who the kids are who are ruining it for everybody else. They are very disrespectful. They are telling the neighbors to ‘F-off,’ they are flipping off the homeowners, they are ripping up the back of their yards. You have some really disrespectful kids out there ruining it for everybody.”
The best solution will be to give community members ownership of the issue, Erickson said, by forming a committee or a club to self-police the area.
“We are just trying to educate parents so they know there is an issue and limit our liability. It can only be fixed from within, come back to the city and request a portion of that city land that you guys as a club could carry liability on and that sort of thing. We will be placing the signs on the city road, and I know the sheriff's department is monitoring.”
Ideally, the committee will include representation from area homeowners, users of the Bureau of Land Management’s off highway vehicle track, law enforcement, and youths who frequent the area, Erickson said.
Knodel commended the city council for being willing to work with community members to determine a final solution.
“If that was not the case … I would never forgive you if you ruined that for my children,” Knodel said. “I myself have some ideas that might be useful towards a committee and finding a solution that keeps all parties happy and possibly reducing some liability. I think that would keep everybody happy. “
This is an issue Knodel said he does not believe parents were well aware of.
“Now it is something the parents are aware of, I think it will be much better. There are some kids that probably won’t improve. That is where I believe law enforcement is going to possibly have to write a ticket. I commend them for trying not to write a ticket. I think that is quite honorable.”