Thursday, March 15, 2007

Opposition to Allowing ATVs on the Gunflint Trail Continues

When the question of allowing ATVs on the Gunflint Trail came up last spring the Gunflint Trail Association sent the following letter to the Country Board,


Dear County Commissioners:

The Gunflint Trail Association would like to express our opposition to
opening Cook busy County roads, and in particular the Gunflint Trail and County
side roads, to unrestricted use by ATVs. We feel that the additional traffic
caused by allowing ATVs on these roads would pose a major safety hazard and add
a most unwelcome element to the traffic on the Trail.

Furthermore, allowing ATVs on the Trail would certainly be a detriment
to the quiet nature vacation that businesses on the Trail are attempting to
promote. We are concerned that, if the Gunflint Trail were opened to ATVs, it
would soon be promoted as an ATV travel corridor and destination, much to the
detriment of our businesses and the quality of life on the Gunflint.

However, we believe that some provision should be made in any
County legislation enacted concerning ATVs to allow for limited ATV use by area
residents to travel short distances on County roads. Residents and businesses on
the Gunflint currently use their ATVs to go from their driveways to an ATV
trailhead or to their mailboxes. Some businesses also travel by ATV on Country
roads to service USFS campgrounds they maintain. To our knowledge, this type of
very limited use has not been a problem and we do not consider it necessary for
the County to restrict this type of use.
Thank you for considering our
concerns.

Regards, Shari Baker, President
Gunflint Trail
Association

A similar letter in opposition to allowing ATV's on the Gunflint was sent by the Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee. Joining this oppositions were many Gunflint Trail residents.

After a year of fighting over ATV use the County Board has prepared a draft Country Ordinance which among other provisions would open the 40 Mile Per Hour zone in the mid Gunflint Trail and all the County side roads along the Gunflint Trail to ATV use.

Both the Gunflint Trail Association (GTA) and the Byways Committees have re-affirmed their opposition to ATV's.

Sometime in early March Shari Baker, GTA President was asked by the a representative of the ATV club, to meet with the GTA. The meeting request was brought to the GTA Board of Directors on March 9th. At the Board meeting it was unanimously decided since GTA had no interest in changing its position on ATV us on the Gunflint nothing would be gained by meeting with the ATV club. The Board re-affirmed its position and asked Baker to re-send the organization's letter of opposition from last March to the County Board with a copy to be sent to the ATV club.

According to Country Commissioner Jim Johnson, "At the Feb 13th meeting (Country Board) we decided to schedule the public hearing for the proposed ordinance for Mar. 20 at 7:00 PM in the commissioner’s room in the court house." Johnson went on to state, "The amount of correspondence I have received on this is almost overwhelming, and there are strong feelings involved. I don’t think the draft of this ordinance adequately addresses the issues. Three things could happen at the hearing; (1) We could support the ordinance and put it into effect, (2) We could refer it back to committee for review and establish another hearing date, or (3) We could vote it down. If you feel strongly one way or the other it would be good to attend the meeting."

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