To ride or not to ride?
Frustration is brewing from some ATV owners in Rice County after multiple riders discovered they couldn’t access the Arkansas River.
Jesse Patterson is one resident who’s grown up going to the river all of his life, he said.
“It’s fun just being down at the river,” Patterson said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie with other friends and ATV’s and stuff.”
However, he noticed the county blocking multiple access points after landowners complained of drivers destroying their property.
One farmer who wants to remain anonymous said she’s seen riders ruin her crops before and doesn’t want it to happen again.
“It’s blocked by great big boulders that the county had come in and dumped,” Patterson said. “So you can no longer get to the river with our ATV’s.”
ATVing is considered a recreational sport by the state, and so access to the Arkansas River can’t be blocked off.
County officials said the grey area is where private property ends, and the high water mark begins.
“If you’re the landowner, you feel that the high water mark is where the river is trickling in July, it’s this wide,” said Rice County chairman Derek McCloud. “Now, you’re an ATV-er, you think the high water marker is how far it is and the biggest flood.”
McCloud said that since there’s no hard and fast rule about where private property ends, it’s an issue that he feels should be handled at the state level.
Because of complaints from ATV’ers , the state told Rice county authorities that it’s ultimately up to landowners to decide if the boulders stay.
“Make it a happy medium somewhere in there for us. Not everybody got the money to go to Waynoka or Manhattan to go wheeling,” Patterson said.