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4/30/2024 - Public Safety Announcement: Illegal ATV Operation on Larkin Bridle Trail

New Release from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police are working with a number of New Haven County police departments in an effort to deter illegal off-road vehicle use on the Larkin State Park Trail, a 10.3-mile trail through four towns.

Trail users and property owners have reported the operation of numerous illegal ATVs and other off-road vehicles on the trail, commonly known as the Larkin Bridle Trail, and on private property adjoining the Larkin Bridle Trail. This trail is open to walkers, joggers, and horseback riders. The operation of ATVs and off-road vehicles on this trail is strictly prohibited and can result in a fine for the operator.

Operators are allowed to ride their own registered ATV on private land if they have the written permission of the landowner on them when they are operating on that designated land, and if local ordinances permit it.

In response to these reports, the EnCon Police Department, Connecticut State Police, Middlebury Police Department, Naugatuck Police Department, and Oxford Police Department are cooperating to warn unauthorized riders that riding on the trail is not allowed, in order to protect the rightful users of the trail and the long-term health of the trail itself.

These agencies take these reports very seriously and are concerned with the impact that illegal operators are having on the public. They would like to remind the public that:

  • Off-road vehicles must be registered (CT General Statute 14-380)
  • Cannot operate off-road vehicles on state-owned land without permission (CT General Statute 14-387(5))
  • Operators cannot operate the machine in a negligent manner that endangers person or property and damage to land or property (CT General Statute 14-386a(2))
  • Operators cannot operate an off-road vehicle unreasonably fast (CT General Statute 14-386a(1))
  • Operators must carry written permission from the landowner (CT General Statute 14-387(5)*)

These violations are punishable by infraction and can lead to the seizure of the vehicle. Many communities have recently enacted additional local ordinances to further address these circumstances and it is the responsibility of the individual rider to be aware of these laws. The police departments are seeking the assistance of the public to help with the identification of these illegal operators. Please reference the “ATV RIDER FACT SHEET” at this website.

If you are a property owner who allows riders to access your property, please speak with those riders about these laws and rules. We discourage witnesses from confronting the riders but to simply take a picture of the activity and record the information on the ATV RIDER FACT SHEET accessible at this website.

This illegal activity is causing damage to our lands and placing the health and safety of law-abiding citizens at risk. We encourage the public to report these activities and to call their local police departments and report these activities as they are occurring. DEEP’s parks, forests, and trails provide a wide range of year-round recreation opportunities. With 110 state parks, 32 state forests, and thousands of miles of trails, DEEP and our partner organizations want residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, safely, and sustainably.