Sunday, March 12, 2006

Country commissioner Johnson Supporting Opening the Gunflint Trail To ATV's

The Gunflint Trail's County commissioner Jim Johnson in a recent email express support for allowing ATVs to travel on all county roads including the Gunflint Trail. In a recent email to me Johnson states that,

"I support opening county roads to ATVs because they are structured to
support cars and trucks and ATV's would not impact the environment as much
as when they ride in the ditches as they do now. The Gunflint Trail
itself may be a problem because of safety issues, especially coming up that
first hill.

If, however, we are looking at safety issues we should also look
at other forms of transportation such as motorcycles, bicycles, horses, in-line
skates, walking etc. We do not prohibit the use of these on county
roads, and it seems to be somewhat discriminatory to prohibit ATV's.
Obviously, the ATV drivers would have to have a valid driver's license and
drive within the law."

In a email I wrote to Johnson I stated, "While I can support ATVs on some country roads, I believe this would be a poor idea on other country roads. And most importantly it would be a very poor idea to open the Gunflint Trail to the unrestricted use of ATVs. The Trail is already busy enough. ATVs would add a most unwelcome element to the traffic on the Trail, particularly during the busy summer season. Further allowing ATVs on the Trail would certainly be a detriment to the quiet nature vacation that most of the business on the trail are attempting to promote. I feel that if the Trail was opened to ATVs it would soon be promoted as a ATV travel corridor and destination much to the detriment of many of our businesses"


The issue of safety maybe a problem, Johnson you have to be kidding, the way I see it, allowing ATV's on the Gunflint would be a major safety problem! Dave Seaton, from Hungry Jack Outfitters in a recent email to Johnson also expressed his concerns of the safety of ATV's traveling along the Gunflint.

Other Gunflint Trail residents have also express the opposition to allowing ATV's on the Trail.
Don Lease, from Road Lake emailed Johnson that, "The Gunflint Trail has been declared a Scenic Byway. How would ATVs on the Trail affect the Byway program being spearheaded by the Gunflint Trail Association."

Don when on to state that, "Last year we had a bad accident on Clearwater Road where 3 children driving and riding on a 4-wheeler went off the road and down a huge embankment. This required the involvement of two ambulances with a doctor aboard one to treat grievous injuries on the way to the hospital. In addition, it required involvement of the Gunflint Trail rescue squad plus a tow truck to retrieve the vehicle. Also, in reading a lot of game warden reports they say they have been lucky and in time to stop an accident from happening. Two that I can quickly recall of were the stopping of a 4-wheeler with 3 or more underage riders on one vehicle and one adult individual stopped was allowing a child to ride on the front rack and stated to the Warden, 'At least she was wearing a helmet.' I am sure not all riders are bad, but from previous experiences and expenses of other counties road and environmental costs I just wonder if Cook County is ready for this. Just look at the TV and magazine ads where the manufacturers make it look like riders can drive through any terrain and stream bed. I am not sure I call this being responsible with county property and the environment."

Mike Sherfy, of Rockwood Lodge,amongg other concerns about ATV's on the Gunflint states that, "Enforcement of existing regulations seems to be a big problem. Jim's argument that it is difficult to enforce current ATV usage as justification for opening all roads to ATV use is lame. Saying that 'law enforcement tells us that they are not ticketing ATV users along county roads at this time, unless they are doing something dangerous, so opening the county roads won't make much difference' shows a disrespect for existing regulations. Current enforcement of ATV restrictions and vehicle speed limits along the Trail seem to be of little concern to county officials."

After talking to many of my neighbors, its clear to me that many, if not most, Gunflint resident think that allowing ATV's on the Gunflint is a bad idea.

What do you think?

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