Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 21, 2013

A new threat

ATV riders damaging levee

The Independent

ASHLAND — Wolf Creek Dam, which impounds Lake Cumberland and is undergoing $600 million in repairs, is not the only southern Kentucky water barrer that has raised the safety concerns of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A much small levee near Middlesboro is being damaged by people riding off-road vehicles.

Ranger Brent Sewell said heavy activity by ATVs has caused ruts along the top and sides of the levee in several places. He says more damage will further weaken the levee, and if it fails, the area would be flooded.

The corps has banned ATVs on the levee and increased ranger patrols to enforce the ban. Because the levee is federal property, Sewell said those violating the ban are not being changed with state offenses and ordered into state courts. Instead, violators are being cited to U.S. District Court in London.

In addition to increasing patrols, a few well-placed chains and other barriers on the levee can discourage ATV riders from riding there as much as having more patrols. A few chains brought damage to the Central Park burial mounds to a halt.

Stopping the abuse of the levee by ATV riders should be achievable at a minimum cost to taxpayers. Public safety demands it be accomplished.