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2003 Roadless Area Archives

Trails Damaged by OHV

2002 Roadless Area Archives:

Implementation of Roadless Area Urged

Jan 10 Roadless Anniversary

Jan 4 Reconsider ATV Trail

2001 Roadless Area Archives:

Sept 5 Roadless Input Needed

Aug 22 Roadless Input Needed

Aug 20 OHV User Group Forming

Aug 8 Threatening BWCA

Aug 8 Input Needed

June 28 Dayton to Overturn

April 26 Roadless Appeal

April 11 OHV Legislation

March 28 Roadless

March 23 Roadless at Risk

March 13 ATV

March 12 Wild Alert

2000 Roadless Archives:

Proposed Roadless Mtgs

Roadless Area Proposal

Additional Information


BWCA Weather

BWCA Weather for Ely, Grand Marais, and the Gunflint Trail

Cook County Star, January 16, 2003

Photo by Jeff Lynch
The Tofte cross-country ski trails were not in top condition for the upcoming North Shore Mountain Challenge ski race, even before a trespassing truck rutted the trails. Race organizers fear the race will have to be cancelled.

Ski Trails damaged by OHV

By Rhonda Silence, Cook County Star
Pro-and-anti off highway vehicle (OHV) users are upset over last weekend's damage to cross-country ski trails in Tofte. The driver of a 4-wheel drive pick-up truck took a destructive detour, opening a closed gate and cruising down several cross-country ski trails, inflicting damage that could lead to the cancellation of the inaugural North Shore Mountain Challenge.
Jeff Lynch of Tofte, trail maintenance supervisor for the North Shore Mountain Challenge, reported the extensive damage to the North Shore cross-country ski trails by an off highway vehicle with large tires. "Last weekend, a 4-wheel drive truck drove into the Britain Peak parking lot, past the signs and right onto the ski trails. The truck tracks extended onto the Homestead Loop and onto the Picnic Loop," reported Lynch.
"This past weekend, a similar vehicle entered at Oberg Mountain, went down the road and past a closed gate onto the Oberg Mountain ski parking area and drove onto the groomed Onion River Road ski trail. This individual purposely opened the gate to get onto the ski trails. There are over 25 kilometers of ski trails damaged by wheeled vehicles," stated Lynch.
Lynch, and other members of the Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association, which is hosting the North Shore Mountain Challenge, are concerned that the damage cannot be repaired before the February 1 cross-country marathon. The racers were to ski the trails that the truck disturbed.
"We were hoping for a few more inches of snow to improve the course," said Lynch. "Now we need even more snow because the trails are so rutted. Either we get a bunch of volunteers out there, repairing the damage or we get two feet of snow-or we cancel."
Local All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Club members hope that will not happen. And they hope that their efforts to form a club to establish and oversee ATV trails in Cook County will not be tainted by one irresponsible person.
"We are very sorry to hear about the damage," said Brad Thompson of Grand Marais, acting president of the Cook County ATV Club. He added that the pick-up truck driver was not a typical ATV user. "The majority of OHVers would not go out and purposely destroy someone else's fun."
Lynch believes that too, but said, "What we're trying to do by exposing this is to make the OHV groups realize that when one of their group does something like this, it doesn't help their cause. Hopefully, their peers will report them-or at least criticize their behavior."
Roger Landers of the Minnesota Nordic Ski Association (MNSA) doesn't necessarily agree with Lynch. Regardless of whether the perpetrators were typical ATV users or not, he would like to see OHVers pay. "MNSA is joining forces with non-motorized conservation groups to lobby the legislature to access the Off-Highway Vehicle dedicated account to repair trail and other damages caused by 4x4 off-road trucks, dirt bikes and ATVs," said Landers.
The trail trespass incident occurred just days after the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a report criticizing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for inadequate planning for OHV trails. In the January 8, 2003 report, the OLA said the DNR had been slow to initiate a planning process. The OLA gave four key recommendations:
* The Legislature should require Environmental Assessment Worksheets for many OHV projects.
* The DNR needs to develop an understanding of how many miles of trails the department's OHV budget will potentially support
* The DNR should devote at least as much enforcement time per vehicle to OHVs as it does to snowmobiles.
* The DNR should take several steps to improve the oversight that the snowmobile and OHV grant-in-aid programs receive.
Anti-OHV groups like the Minnesotans for Responsible Recreation (MRR) applaud the report. MRR Director Jeff Brown called the report "a resource for reform" and said his group is working to institute the suggested reforms.
Anyone with information about the person(s) who drove onto the North Shore Cross-Country Ski Trail system, is encouraged to contact Cook County Law Enforcement at (218) 387-3030; Kathy Larson with the DNR at (218) 879-3695 or Rebecca Francis with the US Forest Service at (218)387-3232.


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