Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Minneapolis Star and Tribune series on rampant ATV abuse

Every once and a while you run into some truly good local journalism. The Star and Tribune has just made that come true for me with a three part series on ATV use in Minnesota. Anyone who wonders what is really happening out there needs to read this series. To me the results are obvious. Our State Parks are vastly underfunded. Our Conservation Officers are cut way back and spread incredibly thin, our paved cycling trails are falling apart, yet for some reason the MN DNR is still putting heavy resources towards the most destructive practice to hit our forests since the 1870's logging boom.


Joel said...

I agree, the Star Trib's series shined a bright light on the DNR's ongoing mismanagement of ATVing.

I blogged about it too:


Loki said...

Nice Joel,
I check out your Silent Sports Blog pretty often. So I am wondering what can truly be done going forward? Would writing our state reps be something? The various DNR heads that the article mentions actually ignore science to put trails where they absolutely should not be??

Joel said...

Good questions. The Strib series gives us an opportunity to pressure lawmakers.

If I were you, I'd contact my rep ask for support for the following:

1) an end to the paid Trail Ambassador program, which is clearly ineffective and only further subsidizing ATV clubs (make the program all volunteer, as it is in Wisconsin)

2) have that money spent instead on ATV enforcement by conservation officers with the authority to issue tickets and make arrests

3) demand that the DNR start confiscating ATVs from violators

4) demand that the state spend its ATV mitigation fund money (something Wisconsin doesn't have) fixing properties that have been damaged

5) start asking why the DNR isn't managing its parks and trails in accordance with how they're used. In Wisconsin, we know that 80 percent of the users of public parks and trails favor nonmotorized recreation.

samh said...

An interesting fact was that Wisconsin only has 180 miles of motorized trails. They only have 1/8 the acreage of state land of Minnesota but doing a ratio of miles to acres one would find that even if Wisconsin and Minnesota had the same acreage, Wisconsin would only have 1,440 miles of trail whereas they expect Minnesota could have upwards of 7,000 after this fiasco runs its course.

Loki said...

Hey Sam!
Yeah I read that too but look closer at the rest of that section. WI only has 180 miles on STATE land but has most of its trails on county and city land. WI has as much or more ATV use as MN only it is on land other than what the state owns. Semantics.

dharma bum said...

I fear for what this final plan from the DNR will look like. Mark Holsten, who has never seemed to think "environmental issues" mean anything more than hunting, fishing (nothing wrong there but I think we can all agree that there are some other important aspects to enjoying Minnesota's outdoors) and motorized recreation, heading up the joint, I read this worrisome statement in the linked article: "In shaping the plan, top DNR officials repeatedly overruled field staff by approving motorized access near riverbanks, bogs and old-growth forest, and in areas that harbor red-shouldered hawks and rare plants, interviews with DNR staff and a review of agency records show."


samh said...

I'm most horrified by the fact motorized use being a threat must be proved (quote, "...proof that unique natural features needed extra protection"). I would be a hypocrite if I didn't say that an environmental impact statement was necessary but wouldn't proving these areas are damageable mean they'd actually have to BE damaged to attain proof?!?

Joel said...

For the record, there are about 8,000 miles of legal ATV trails in the state of Wisconsin, most of that is on county forest land.