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Prospector ATV Club wins national award

Ely Echo - Staff Photo
A POPULAR STOP on the Prospector ATV Trail system is the Beaver River Bridge, located north of Babbitt and halfway between Ely and Tower. The 1,000 foot long structure was completed in December of 2022.

The Prospector ATV Club has received a national award for the Beaver River Bridge project which was partially funded by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP).

The Coalition for Recreational Trails chose Prospector as winner of the CRT’s Annual Achievement Award for outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program funds in the Multiple-Use Management and Corridor Sharing category.

The award will be presented on March 6 in Washington, D.C. at a special awards ceremony followed by a reception on Capitol Hill.

“We were very excited to receive this national award,” said club president Nick Wognum. “From the permitting to engineering to construction plus the large group of volunteers who assisted as well, this was truly a team effort.”

The Beaver River Bridge Project received $150,000 of Recreational Trail Program (RTP) funding, which was awarded to the city of Ely. The city worked closely with the Prospectors Alliance ATV Club to create an important recreational trail link.

Rep. Pete Stauber (R) thanked the club for the work it has done to build a 250-mile ATV trail system.

“I want to congratulate the Prospector ATV Club on receiving the Annual Achievement Award through the Recreational Trails Program. This award is testament of the great work this group of dedicated individuals performs annually to maintain our trails and preserve multiple use of our land. I have had the privilege of riding with the Prospector ATV Club in the past, so I have seen firsthand their commitment to serving as responsible stewards of our land and know that their efforts will allow future generations of Minnesotans to enjoy their favorite outdoor pastimes for years to come. Northern Minnesota is a better place thanks to the Prospector ATV Club,” said Stauber.

For over 40 years, the only trail connection through this area was a snowmobile trail.

An all-season connection simply did not exist. The RTP provided the catalyst for securing additional funding, which created a connection between Ely, the David Dill/Taconite State Trail and the city of Babbitt.

“Minnesotans love the outdoors, and the Prospectors Alliance ATV Club of Ely earning this National Award demonstrates their strong commitment to the community through the improvement of their trail system,” said U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D). “Whether it’s by an ATV, snowmobile or mountain bike, these trails boost the local tourism economy while safeguarding our wetlands. This award is a testament to what can be done when local leaders work together.”

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar expressed her support for federal ATV trail funding.

“Congratulations to the Prospector ATV Club for this well-deserved recognition and for your successful work to make the Prospectors Trail a unique destination for ATV users, cyclists, and hikers,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. “I know riding ATVs through our pristine trails is a traditional part of Minnesotans’ outdoor recreation, and I worked with Senator Risch to pass bipartisan legislation to maintain strong funding for the Recreational Trails Program. I’ll continue working to ensure Minnesota receives the resources needed to protect and improve our trails.”

SEH Engineering provided the environmental, design and construction management for the $2.1 million project.

“It was exciting working with the Prospector ATV Club to develop a unique bridge system that crosses the Beaver River and surrounding wetland complex,” said project manager Jason Chopp of SEH.

In addition to the federal Recreational Trails Program monies, the IRRRB and the state ATV dedicated fund helped pay for the elevated bridge and boardwalk.

“This was truly a community effort. Northland Construction did an excellent job as the contractor but the local snowmobile clubs from Ely, Babbitt and Lake Vermilion as well as members of the Prospectors and Babbitt clubs spent many hours and many weeks completing this project and making it the best it can be. We had volunteers helping from as far away as the Cities but certainly the main workforce were the local members. We could not have completed this project without the many volunteers and the support at the federal, state and local levels,” said Prospector Trail Administrator Ron Potter.

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