Forest Service green lights Prospector Loop ATV trail

The U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday it has approved the proposed Prospector Loop ATV Trail where it crosses federal land.
“This is a big step forward for the Prospector Loop,” said Prospector Alliance President Nick Wognum.
“This allows us to start preparing for future construction work on the section from Ely to Mattila’s Shelter. Once completed, that will connect Ely to Babbitt and to the North Shore,” said Wognum.
Kawishiwi District Ranger Gus Smith said in a letter he decided to approve the project “after considering public input and a thorough environmental analysis that occurred throughout the development of this project.
“This…will best meet the project’s purpose and need to accomplish safe and environmentally sound long-distance riding opportunities in this area of the forest.”
No objections were received during the 45-day objection period.
The Prospector Alliance, a non-profit organization, will now work with the Forest Service to make the improvements outlined through the NEPA process.
“We now move to the implementation phase of the project including the reconstruction where necessary of 5.6 miles of existing National Forest System roads and trails to provide for an environmentally sustainable OHV opportunity,” said Smith.
The Prospector Loop is over 250 miles of ATV trails that will connect Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass, Tower, the North Shore and two state parks.
The Prospector Alliance was able to secure $1 million in funding from state dedicated accounts in the last legislative session for the project.
There was also $1 million for the project in the bonding bill that could be approved in the next legislative session.
The group has also secured $150,000 in a federal grant and $50,000 from the IRRRB to help build the trail system.
“I’d like to thank the Forest Service and especially John Pierce for working with us throughout this process. This is going to be a great riding opportunity not only for people who live here but those who want to come and recreate in the Ely area during the spring and fall,” said Wognum.
The Prospector Alliance will be holding a club meeting on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Ely Lodge to discuss the project along with riding opportunities in the Ely area.