prairie grass
Woman pointing to "No ATVs Permitted" sign along Taconite State Trail
January 2, 2017
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Comments Needed on Taconite State Trail Plan by Jan. 6

Taconite State Trail Draft Plan CoverParks & Trails Council of Minnesota recently learned of an attempt to bring off-highway motor vehicles also known as OHVs (that includes all-terrain vehicles known as ATVs, as well as off-highway motorcycles and 4x4s such as Jeeps which can be driven both on highways and over rugged non-paved areas) into State Parks through language in the final draft of the Taconite State Trail Master Plan that suggests such use may be permissible. This draft plan is open for public comments until Fri., Jan.6.

In fact, OHVs are prohibited from state parks according to state law, state park rules and by the DNR’s guiding principles for sustainable trail development. Therefore, such references to allowing OHVs in state parks should be removed from this plan.

Taconite State Trail designed for Snowmobiles – Updated draft plan introduces OHVs

The Taconite State Trail was developed and is used primarily as a snowmobile trail with parts of it suitable for biking, horseback riding, and hiking. Parts of the trail traverse sensitive natural resource areas, including land in two state parks: Bear Head Lake and McCarthy Beach. The decision to allow snowmobiles in state parks was made years ago and is not likely to be reconsidered. Now, however, the updated plan entertains the idea of adding year-round noise and the more destructive impacts from OHVs into state parks that have always banned them.

What you can do: Add Your Comments Now!

We encourage our members to share their desire to keep state parks as places where the sounds of nature dominate and natural resources are protected. Some key points to consider in making your comments:

  • State Parks are unique places that deserve special protections.
    • Less than one percent (0.42%) of land in Minnesota is protected as state parks.
    • These places were set aside to protect their “unspoiled natural resources” (M.S. 86A Subd. 2.c).
    • A majority (60%) of Minnesota State Park visitors do not want OHVs in state parks, according to the MnDNR’s 2012 State Park Visitor Survey (see table 25).
    • OHV use is not compatible with state parks as defined by law.
  • Introducing OHVs into state parks would perpetuate a disproportionate use of resources.
    • More than 4,000,000 acres of State Forests are already available for OHV use, compared with a meager 214,252 acres for State Parks. That represents 1,800% more land for OHV users than state park users.
    • OHV use irreconcilably disrupts the enjoyment of natural areas for silent recreation.

Feel free to read our full comments for more details.

Comments must be made by Friday, Jan 6, 2017.

Please email or call the principal planner for the Taconite State Trail Master Plan to add your comments as part of the public input required in the planning process.
Diane Anderson
DNR principal planner (St. Paul)
651-259-5614
diane.k.anderson@state.mn.us

We appreciate seeing your comments. Please consider forwarding your comments or sharing any other opinions on this matter to us at info@parksandtrails.org.