A Westhampton Beach man was arrested on Friday after Suffolk County Sheriffs scoured an area of the Pine Barrens in Speonk with a helicopter, looking for illegal all-terrain vehicle riders in the preserved land.
In response to numerous complaints of illegal ATV use, Southampton Town Police were dispatched on the ground to an area south of Sunrise Highway, between Speonk-Riverhead Road and County Road 31.
While environmentalists reported last November that enforcement had improved in recent years, Pine Barrens Society Executive Director Dick Amper said
“There is no natural disease or weather phenomenon that damages the Pine Barrens as much as ATVs,” he said.
Meanwhile, some riders themselves see the activity as a harmless hobby.
“I go there because I have nowhere else to ride,” East Quogue resident Jason Pisaneschi said. “We’re not hurting anybody. We’re just having fun. I don’t see what the big deal is.”
Police said that area and others will continue to be patrolled in response to complaints of unlawful ATV use.
According to police, on Friday a 29-year-old man, with a passenger in tow, was operating an ATV illegally in the area and was arrested on several vehicle and traffic violations.
He was charged with the following violations: operating an ATV on public property, unregistered ATV and uninsured ATV. The man was released on an appearance ticket and his ATV was impounded.
Editor's note: It is not Patch policy to name defendants who are arrested when a violation is the top charge.