Hook and bullet club

by Nick Wognum

Kawishiwi District Range Mark Van Every knows there are some unhappy ATV owners in this area right now. He just feels some of their unhappiness is unjustified.<BR><BR>Van Every called on Wednesday to talk about the new forest plan that forbids ATV travel across country, even to retrieve big game such as moose or deer. <BR><BR>What he wanted to point out was that other than that change (albeit a big one), the rules on where you can and cannot ride an ATV have not really changed from the old plan.<BR><BR>Let’s use the Cloquet Line as an example. Due to how that road is classified by the Forest Service it was not a legal road to ride ATVs on. <BR><BR>We can go into the detail on Forest Service road classifications but unless you’re a road engineer, I doubt you or I would be able to determine the different classifications without a map. <BR><BR>The Cloquet Line was never signed one way or another for ATV travel but when the latest forest plan came out, suddenly signs were put up indicating ATV traffic was not allowed. Had the signs not gone up, maybe the ruckus raised would not have been so loud.<BR><BR>However, Van Every pointed out that other than the signs, nothing changed. Nobody has been stopped by law enforcement and nobody has been ticketed. <BR><BR>He’s right. People may be excited for no reason. But if the end result is that we get people to step forward and work on getting more trails, then things will be better than they were before.<BR><BR>Van Every has also taken the bull by the horns and is trying to solve the Cloquet Line problem by talking to Fall Lake Township to take over jurisdiction for its portion of the road. Assuming Town of Morse and St. Louis County agree as well, this is good news for ATVers and snowmobilers.<BR><BR>That step that Van Every took to try to help solve a problem is an important one that should not be overlooked. <BR><BR>We have not always had District Rangers who have worked to help solve problems related to motorized users. In fact at times it seemed like some District Rangers were more interested in creating problems than solving them.<BR><BR>The ATV meeting this Wednesday (7 p.m. at Grand Ely Lodge) will be a chance for ATV users to find out the status of trails in the Ely area. I’ve asked Van Every or someone representing him to be there to explain the Forest Service’s position.<BR><BR>Van Every has already spoken with ATVAM (the state ATV organization) and the DNR about how to get more trails on the ground in our area, even on federal land. <BR><BR>And don’t forget the DNR and the forest-by-forest review of state forests in Minnesota. That is going on right now and we could see changes in the Burntside and Bear Island forests sometime down the road. <BR><BR>The missing link has to be filled this week by the revitalized Ely-Winton Stumpjumpers ATV Club. <BR><BR>We need ATV users who are willing to meet with representatives of the Forest Service, DNR, county, township and private landowners to help put trails in place. <BR><BR>There are always guys out there willing to go flag a route through the woods, but usually that’s only a small step in the process. Getting the permits in place and funding lined up can be difficult and time-consuming. <BR><BR>We need to have the ATV user group at the table when decisions are being made. We need people willing to volunteer their time to see that there are trails to ride on. We need help.