Forest Service, volunteers make it happen in cooperative signage project along Prospector Loop ATV trail system

The Prospector Loop ATV trail system is over 250 miles long and that means lots of work for volunteers on the sign committee.
“We’ve already put in over 300 sign posts,” said volunteer Steve Groteboer. “And there’s a lot more to go.”
The U.S. Forest Service has partnered with the Prospector and Ely Igloo clubs to improve signage, starting with the area around Mattila Shelter and expanding from there.
“This is an example of how coordination is a real cost effective way to build a real high quality trail system,” said Kawishiwi District Ranger Aaron Kania. “You see this vision, you see this effort and you can see how Northeast Minnesota is going to be one of the top 10 destinations for ATV riders.”
Joining Groteboer, Corey Keen and Tom Maggio out on the trails putting up signs was Mike Banovetz.
“The work now for Lake and St. Louis county will be a template for uniform signing trail systems that will be used throughout the National Forest, state and other counties for ATV and snowmobile. There will be literally hundreds of sign posts and signs installed,” said Banovetz.
The volunteer group has had numerous meetings with USFS point man John Pierce.
“This started when somebody cued me in on the work being done by Steve and the guys,” said Pierce. “It was a combination of what they started and the Forest Service thinking signs needed to be consolidated and professionalized.”
Signs on the trail system include the number of the section the rider is on along with directional, safety and informational signs. The benefits will be year-round.
“This is going to be a good thing,” said Ely Igloo Club President Rico Mondati. “It’s got to be done and it’s great they’re doing what they’re doing. This will help people in being able to know where to go.”
“We were a bit concerned with sending ATVs out into remote areas without signage,” said Prospector Alliance President Nick Wognum. “It’s a bit easier to follow a groomed snowmobile trail. The good news is this will help both ATV and snowmobile riders .”
Although the snowmobile trails are well developed there are still reroutes and improvements being made.
Now that the Prospectors ATV trail system is being developed, it shares trail sections with snowmobiles and in some places they diverge for a number of reasons like swamps and land owners and then re-converge. It can be confusing so better signage is needed to keep everyone on the proper trails for both ATV and snowmobile.
“We will also be working on information kiosks at key locations throughout the trail systems,” said Banovetz.
The Prospector and Igloo clubs each put money into an account the Forest Service could access to order signs at much lower price through a federal contract.
Pierce said brainstorming by the group led to a cooperative approach that will be used on federal lands as well as other landowner sections.
“We met in the field quite a bit making sure we had it right and we met to review sign proofs.” said Pierce. “They’re making sure it’s right and they’re watching the funds. We have very good and efficient meetings.”
Seeing the hard work turning into a first class signage system is a great reward for Groteboer.
“This is going to be Hollywood when we’re done for both ATVers and snowmobilers,” said Groteboer. “It’s great to see everybody working together.”