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Not in Town
Winthrop Council says no to ATVs

All terrain vehicles - also known as ATVs or 4-wheelers - will not be allowed in town, the Winthrop Council decided during their November 7 meeting at the Winthrop Barn.

Councilmember Mort Banasky, who was elected mayor pro tem later in the meeting, said “I have faithfully read every word of every comment,” and found them “overwhelmingly against” allowing ATVs in town.

“I’m not against ATVs,” said council member Sue Langdalen. “But people are saying no.” She mentioned a bigger picture - that allowing ATVs in Winthrop might lead to impacts to out-of-town residents.

“I don’t think we can police it, I don’t think we can control it,” said Banasky.

Councilmember Rick Northcott said that the council should focus on the town itself, not outside the town, and should allow the ATVs. He said that if the Forest Service and Okanogan County had impacts from ATVs inside Winthrop, “they can deal with the headache.”
ATV proponents, including the North Central ATV Club, are looking for a connection to the Methow Valley.

ATV riders now have a route between Conconully and Loomis and would very much like to connect Conconully and the Methow Valley. “Destinations and loop routes” are what ATVers want to build, said ATV Club board member Ed Surette in earlier testimony.

Mixed traffic on the East Chewuch Road was mentioned several times during the meeting as a possible problem if ATVs were to gain a route from Conconully to Winthrop.

The Town of Winthrop had received around one hundred written communications about legalizing four-wheelers in town. From Methow Valley residents, the trend was strongly against the move. From out-of-valley came a smaller number of comments, predominantly supporting four-wheelers in town.

Councilmember Tiffany Langdalen said she had not read the comments, but had been hearing from town citizens that they did not want ATVs added to Winthrop.

Policing, safety and traffic congestion in town were cited at the meeting as problems. After the vote, Mayor Dave Acheson said “I would have voted against it also . . . at least at this time.” He said allowing ATVs would have altered the ambience and character of the town. He and council members made clear that the decision was not simple, that conflicting considerations for business, safety and aesthetic points clouded the question.

With the final vote cast, ATV supporters politely left the meeting and politely thanked the council for their time.

More than 60 people attended a public hearing in September in Winthrop, where the Council heard testimony on whether ATVs should be allowed in town.


Have a comment?

Thank you for the intimate look at this aspect of the culture war. It is fascinating to watch, how different minds work! The economics certainly argue against ATVs in town, primarily because they're not "western," and secondarily, but perhaps more important, because they represent the ultimate in redneck culture to a nature enthusiast from Seattle. Nature is our market, and ATVs have a well established record of not only destroying nature with their direct impact, but also being driven by the kind of people who do not support the conservation and restoration of nature.

Eric Burr
Mazama, WA