URGENT Silent Alarm: ATV Relentless Assault on Silent Sports Trails Must Stop! Please Lend Your Voice!
URGENT Silent Alarm
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WI DNR will rule on an emotionally charged issue that could flip the Stower-Seven Lakes Bike/Ski Trail to snowmobile use. ATVs/Snowmobilers are working to flip several other state trails across Wisconsin. Contact your local legislator and State Parks Externals Relations Missy VanLanduyt:
And urge them to not allow ATVs and snowmobiles on State Trails.
More Efforts to Flip Wisconsin State Trails to ATVs
Two more Wisconsin State bike trails have been garnering attention from ATV enthusiasts. The Sugar River and Badger State Trails became the latest in a statewide salvo in which ATVers target swapping use from biking to ATVs. Both trails are included in the Southwest Savanna Region Landscape Plan process which is unfolding now.
The plan spurred ATV clubs to muscle into the discussion.
The Green County ATV club submitted a petition to add ATV use on the trails during the public input session in spring of 2019, according to DNR Planner Phil Rynish. “We receive a variety of input,” he said. “It’s part of our planning consideration.”
In an apparent coordinated effort by ATV activists to gain access to state trails, the Stower Seven Lakes and Gandy Dancer trails in Northwest Wisconsin face similar threats. ATV clubs reported getting assistance from the Wisconsin ATV Association (WATVA) for expanding access to a variety of roadways. WATVA did not respond to interview requests for this article.
Kassandra Huffman of Brodhead, WI, started a petition to prevent ATV access to the Sugar River and Badger trails. The Change.Org petition has gathered over 15,000 signatories. Please consider adding your signature by using this link:
Huffman cites DNR data showing these trails’ considerable use, including 80,000 bikers in 2018. This disproves the ATV clubs’ argument that the trail is underused. “When the Broadhead City Council voted to support ATVs on the trail,” Huffman told Silent Sports, “there were only ATVers attending the meeting. Cyclists weren’t aware of the resolution. People have responded very positively to the petition and are concerned about safety and wildlife.” Huffman’s husband is an alderman on the city council and voted against the resolution.
As previously reported in Silent Sports, Wisconsin has an oddball state trail management scheme compared to those of other Midwest states. Most don’t allow changing trail usage based on local politics and county board make-up. Some counties claim Wisconsin Statute NR 44 allows them to change trail use and that the DNR only oversees the process. These trails have become political footballs between county boards and DNR management. Changes in NR 44 could give the DNR additional trail management authority more in line with that in other Midwest states.
Full disclosure: As Policy Director for The Friends of Wisconsin State Parks, yours truly has been meeting with legislators to gage interest in changing NR 44 to help protect State Bike Trail use. [Editor’s Note: Thank you, Mike!]
The Sugar River travels 24 miles from New Glarus to Brodhead. The trail contains fourteen trestle bridges which cross the Sugar River and its tributaries. The trail has also been designated a National Recreational Trail. The Badger travels 40 miles between Madison and the Wisconsin-Illinois border, including the 1,200-foot long Stewart Tunnel. The Badger continues into Madison, making numerous connections. At the Illinois border, the Badger connects to the Jane Addams Trail, which continues to Freeport, Illinois. Both make numerous trail connections traveling through small towns, glacial topography, woods, rolling hills, scenic meadows, and remnant prairies.
According to the DNR website, the Landscape Plan covers all of Lafayette County, and portions of Grant, Green, Iowa, and Dane counties. It contains a variety of ecological resources, including the Grant, Rattlesnake, Little Platte, and Pecatonica Rivers; Blue Mound, Hardscrabble Prairie, Yellowstone Lake, New Glarus Woods, and Belmont Mound state properties.
The planning team will evaluate input and incorporate it into its consideration of recreation on these properties. The DNR is slated to involve the public at key points during the process. The draft master plan should be completed in late 2020, with the final plan completed in 2021. Information on the plan is available at:
Do you live or recreate in this area? Get involved by contacting DNR Planner:
See the following update on this story via this link: