The Wilson Tuscarora State Park lies on the west side of the Village of Wilson. Mostly it is a tranquil 485-acres that extends along the shore of Lake Ontario. From grassy fields, a grove of hemlocks and great places to fish, bird and enjoy; the park attracts people from many walks of life.
But that tranquility has been shaken up as ATVs and 4x4 wheelers have begun to encroach on more and more of the trails used for hiking in the summer, and cross-country skiing in the winter near what locals refer to as Bulkhead Point.
“That wasn’t there before the spring,” said Patty Munnikhuysen, pointing to a deep rut of tracks made by a 4x4. “They’re not supposed to be back here at all, and I don’t even mind if they come back. We can all enjoy the place, but when they start ruining it. … It was really bad back here. My friend has horses and they had a really hard time at it. You don’t want a horse to break a leg, and you can’t tell the depth (of water in the ruts).”
Other long-time residents aren’t as understanding to the plight of your average dirt-bike rider.
“It was once a golf course,” said Jim Hufnagel in regard to the history of the trail network in the southern piece of the park by Noble Drive. “There is a lot of resentment around people who have lived here their entire lives around the fact that the state expropriated it, eminent domain, I guess, and created this state park.”
“Like all state parks, they have very strict rules about motorized vehicles and using them (the trails) as a race course,” he said.
Brian Nearing, deputy public information officer for New York State Parks, wrote a statement on the damage caused by motorized vehicles.
“ATV use on hiking trails causes erosion, furrows and water collection that damages trails and can result in uneven surfaces that increase the risk of injury to other users. Large ATV’s are heavy and cause significant damage to trails,” he wrote.
Nearing also noted 4x4 trucks were cited for trespassing in the past few years when their vehicles became stuck in the mud on the trail.
“Under state parks regulations, ATV use is prohibited on hiking trails at Wilson Tuscarora State Park,” he wrote.
Deputy Supervisor Brad Clark of the Town of Wilson also said, despite sympathy for the them, that ATV, 4x4’s and dirt bikes owners should find somewhere else to enjoy their sport.
“I’ve lived here since I was five years old,” he said. “Now I’m 70. … I sympathize with them, I love to ride, and I did a lot of things, but I never damaged someone else’s property.”