Saturday, March 18, 2006

Commissioner Johnson Modifies Stand Slightly on ATVs on County Roads including the Trail.

Don Lease from Road Lake email to Johnson opposing atvs on Gunflint Trail received the following email response- ( Johnson's original position)

Original Message -----
From: Bev and Jim Johnson
To: Don & Eleanor Lease
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 11:44 AM
Subject: Re: ATV County Road Access
Dear Don,

Thank you for the letter. My position as stated in the paper was somewhat oversimplified. ATVs, just like snowmobiles and motorcycles, are here to stay. We need to find a way to regulate them and keep them safe. Right now we are not enforcing any restrictions along our county roads unless the user is seen doing something stupid. The situation is "undefined" to say the least. I agree that the driver needs to be licensed, and insurance needs to be obtained. I also feel we need to be more aggressive in investigating citizen complaints, and environmental damage. Without clear definition of what areas can and can't be used this becomes difficult.

In my opinion the areas around our lakes and the trails to the overlooks should be closed to ATV use. The logging and tote roads in the back woods areas could be used by ATVs. If wetland violations occur they should be investigated. County roads could be used as connectors for use by both groups. Safety is always an issue and some forms of transportation may be relatively safer than others, but we currently allow everything from baby buggies to logging trucks to use our county roads. ATVs are already a part of this mix. If the Sheriff or County Engineer feel that a portion of a county road is unsafe we should regulate it.

I will have a lot of difficulty supporting a blanket opening of county roads without a solid commitment to also increase education and enforcement. This could be accomplished by using some of the gas tax money that is designated to ATV trails to provide the funding. This could be similar to the Game Warden or Highway Patrol system.

We're still trying to sort all this out, and I am open to any ideas that will help us improve the situation as it now exists.

Thanks for your comments.

Jim Johnson

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