Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Proposed County Ordinance Would Open Portion of Gunflint Trail to ATV Use

This morning the Cook Country Board will be consider a draft ordinance on ATV use on roads throughout the County. After consideration of the ordinance today the County Board must next have it presented at a Public Hearing before it can become law.

Provisions of the draft ordinance read as follows:
"1. A person shall be permitted to operate all-terrain vehicles on the road, shoulder, or inside bank or slope of all county roads except as follows:
(1) County Road 12 (Gunflint Trail) except that portion of County Road 12 designated as a 40 m.p.h. zone for automobile traffic in the general area of Poplar Lake, and
(2) All of County Road 8.
2. Persons operating ATV's on county road right-of-ways as permitted by this ordinance shall not operate the ATV at a speed in excess of 30 m.p.h.
3. Operation on county road right-of-way requires possession of a valid driver's license and being in compliance with State and Federal statute and regulations as amended.
4. Operation must be on the extreme right hand side of said road.
5. Operation is limited to daylight hours (1/2 hr before sunrise until 1/2 hr. after sunset).
6. County roads which are open to ATVs may be posted as closed by the County Highway Department for construction or safety purposes as determined by the County Highway Department and after consultation with the County Sheriff."

The Gunflint Trail Association, the Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee and many residents of the Trail have expressed their opposition to allowing unrestricted use of ATVs along the Gunflint Trail. While the proposed ordinances does restrict ATV use along must of the Trail it would allow ATV use in the mid trails area from about Trail Center to Old Northwoods Lodge and along all the Gunflint's County side roads.

According to news reports the ATV club would like the limitation on daylight hours eliminated from the draft. As for daylight hours what daylight hours as propose actually mean is that in the summer ATV travel would be allowed from sometime around 6:00 am. to 9:30 p.m.

The club also argues that state law already ready allows ATVs to drive along the shoulders, ditches and side banks of County Road. It is unclear in the draft ordinance if within the portions of the Gunflint Trail where ATV would not be allowed, whether ATVs could still travel along the shoulders, ditches and side banks. Allowing ATV use in such a manner would make the prohibition on traveling along the Gunflint Trail meaningless and would result in the destruction of the much of the scenic vegetation along the sides of the Gunflint.

All Gunflint Trail residents and friends of the Gunflint are urged to contact the County Board and Commissioner Jim Johnson and the if you are concerned about this important Gunflint Trail issue.

Additional discussion on this issue can be found on True North


At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opening the mid trail area to ATVs with all the traffic in this area already not to mention the foot travel along the shoulder sounds like a very bad idea.

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the complete gunflint trail should be open to atv travel


Anonymous wrote on January 21 that "the complete gunflint trail should be open to atv travel."

Is this guy crazy! He must not live around here because he certainly has idea how much traffic there already is on the Gunflint. Slow moving ATV's would only create more congestion and they certainly would become an additional traffic hazard.

Also it should be noted that businesses on the Trail are not interest in the least in developing ATV tourism. Ted Young

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It should be noted that SOME businesses on the Trail ARE interested in the county (Parts Of the Gunflint Trail) being open to ATV travel.
Not developing ATV tourism.
Sarah Hamilton
Trail Center Lodge
Gunflint Trail

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the listening session held by State Senator Chaudhary at the Upper Deck that was held on Saturday, January 20, Cook County Commissioner Fritz Sobjana, who is generally supportive of ATV interests, and especially on this issue, noted that the clear purpose of this is to forward the program of establishing a state wide network of interconnected trails so ATVers can travel for six or more hours and not have to cover the same ground twice.

This is a far cry from the convenience to locals argument that we have hear where the local ATV representatives say they only want to run down the road to have coffee with their friends.

Keep in mind that it was also pointed out on Saturday that well more than half of the ATVs in the state are registered in the Metro area. Yet the push for trails is outstate – here Up North. This fully supports the concerns that those who oppose county wide county road ATV travel have brought forward, namely that the real intent is to make Cook County a destination for out of the county ATV enthusiasts. ATVs everywhere all the time, are likely to be in the offing should the county board cave in to the ATV lobby on this.

It will clearly be goodbye peace in the woods in Cook County; it will likely also be goodbye to the quiet sports tourists who have so far paid the bills on the trail.

Anonymous Regular Trail Tourist

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds to me that MN law allready allows for ATV's to travel in the ditches along a road, so why not open more forest service roads / trails for ATV's to use. This would bring more money into the Grand Marais area and put more ATV's in the forest away from the "crowded" gunflint trail. I can't believe that business on the Gunflint are not interested in more tourism dollars. They sure don't mind taking my money when I buy their overpriced gas in the winter on my snowmobile. I enjoy the area and we have a cabin that has been in our family since the 1920's, so I am not just a newby to the area that would like to change it for my liking only. I am open for EVERYONE to use the area, not just the hikers and cross county sking group.


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