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Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) Commissioner Sarah Strommen made her first trip to NW Minnesota April 16 to meet with the Roseau County Board of Commissioners. The main topic of discussion was proposed use of ATVs on state land and camping opportunities for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) riders in Hayes Lake State Park and Beltrami Island State Forest.
There are two proposed pilot projects involving ATVs. One is ATV access to Hayes Lake State Park. The other being ATV access on the Moose River Trail, which is currently a snowmobile trail connecting the Fourtown-Grygla trail to Beltrami Island State Forest.
The MNDNR opposed both two year pilot projects.
“There was language that ATVs can’t be used in any state park. The other one is within a Wildlife Management Area, so DNR Wildlife is opposed to that,” said County Commissioner Jack Swanson.
The DNR believes ATVs would disturb the wildlife.
“The thing that’s irritating for me,” Swanson said, “any street legal vehicle can drive on both of those. That would be pickup trucks, that would be cars, that would be motorcycles, that would be dirt bikes — anything that has a license and can run on the street, but not ATVs. In my opinion, you let a motorcycle in, why not let a Ranger in?”
Tied to the ATV/OHV access pilot project was the possibility of camping areas catered towards OHV riders. There were six proposed site for OHV friendly camping, four in Hayes Lake State Park, one at Bemis Hill and one Clear River site.
The MNDNR sought input through a 30-day comment period from Nov. 26 to Dec. 27, 2018. A total of 1,387 comments were received via email, U.S. Mail, an online form and two public meetings held in Warroad and St. Paul. Of the 1,387 comments, only 224 were from 20 “local” ZIP codes.
Main concerns with allowing OHV’s within the state park included noise, exhaust, environmental impacts and displacement of campers seeking solitude. There was also concern that Hayes Lake campground would need to be re-designed to allow for larger camping units and towing ATV trailers. MNDNR estimated this redevelopment would reduce the number of campsites available by about half and cost $2.5-$4 million. The Clear River campground estimate was between $2- and $3-million.
Needless to say, the MNDNR testified against the expanded use of ATV’s/OHV’s, effectively killing all proposed projects for the time being.
Last modified: 05/04/2019