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ATV trail delays anger Hubbard County board

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Delays to an off-road and all-terrain vehicle trail Hubbard County agreed to sponsor two years ago provoked an angry tirade from Hubbard County board chair Lyle Robinson Wednesday at the commission's regular meeting.

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The Schoolcraft Trail, named for the township it's located in, is moving at a snail's pace, he charged. And he said it was unacceptable.

Robinson, with a roomful of ATV riders present, directed his anger at Land Commissioner Bob Hoffman and DNR Trails & Waterways Supervisor David Schotzko for delaying the process.

Hoffman simply wanted to present what he saw as potential opposition to the trail, which winds through the Paul Bunyan State Forest and Schoolcraft State Game Refuge north of Lake George.

"I guess they didn't want to hear it," he said after the meeting.

Robinson was having none of it. Hoffman said the refuge, which has been used by bow hunters exclusively, could come under fire if the dual purpose clashes. He's already heard opposition from the bow hunters, he said.

"To me it's a done deal and you guys are dragging your feet," Robinson said. Because the commission last year previously approved the plan, he told the riders no public comments would be allowed.

"Any time you have public lands and limit where people can go you'll have winners and losers," he told Hoffman, who suggested a loop through the refuge could be changed or adapted.

"I don't understand why we're changing it," commissioner Cal Johannsen said. "They've got 36 square miles to bow hunt on."

The trail, as initially proposed by the Northwest Trail Riders Club, was, after county approval, sent to the DNR to move forward.

Schotzko said there were internal disagreements between several divisions of the DNR, including fisheries, forestry and wildlife, as to whether a trail through the refuge was a wise one. Trails go through a seven-step process, he explained.

"They're going to ride in the ditch anyway," Robinson pointed out. "Why not get money to fix it, make a trail?"

And Robinson said $10,000 in funding was lost last year when the trail wasn't out of the planning stages. More could be lost by delays this year, he said.

"The more this drags on the more phone calls we get," he said.

"Git 'er done," he and Johannsen said in unison.

"I want to add two more trails every time it comes back to us and then it won't come back," Robinson said to a loud round of applause.

"We want to get something done as bad as you do," Schotzko said.

He said he will take the county's message back to the DNR and have the agency begin the public comment process to finalize the trail.

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