Hovland ATV trail moving along

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received 18 comments on the proposed 16-mile ATV trail in the Grand Portage State Forest during a public comment period from January 21 to February 25, 2013.  Fifteen were in support of the trail, two expressed concerns about the trail, and one was simply a question. 
A DNR grant of $3,000 to Cook County will help fund the completion of the trail.
While the trail was proposed by the Cook County ATV Club with support from the county, it will be available for many other uses, including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, hunting, skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding. 
The trail will use existing DNR forest system roads, minimum maintenance roads, and forest access routes in the Tom Lake Area of Hovland, including the Boyd Road, Irish Creek Road, and Tom Lake Road. 
Members of the club will do most of the ongoing maintenance of the trail, with up to 90 percent of the costs eligible for reimbursement through the Minnesota Trail Assistance (grant-in-aid) program.  The DNR obtains the funds it uses for ATV trails from ATV users themselves. 
According to a summary of public comments, “Increasing participation in outdoor recreation activities is consistent with the DNR’s strategic objective to ‘connect people to the outdoors,’ which includes motorized recreation.”
One comment expressed a concern that if the trail were mapped for ATV use, more users from the Twin Cities would come to the area.  The DNR acknowledged that mapping it as an ATV trail may attract more ATVers. 
Other concerns regarded safety for dog sledders on the intersection of Boyd and Tom Lake roads and steep spots prone to washout along the Tom Lake Road.  The DNR said the Boyd/Tom Lake intersection would be turned into a “T,” making turning safer.  It acknowledged that several washouts need repair and some brushing is needed, but despite the fact that the Tom Lake Road has been open to ATVers since 2007, it was not aware of any near collisions involving ATVs and cars along the proposed trail route.
ATV Club Trail Administrator Vilnis Neilands told the county board on April 16, 2013 that the ATV Club is impressed with the DNR’s openness to this project.  He said it will be a good investment for the county and expressed appreciation to the DNR.  He pointed out that the DNR is safeguarding important wilderness elements through this project, for example, by building two bridges to protect beaver lodges along the route.