We took notice when we read three recent Park Rapids Enterprise articles related to the Schoolcraft ATV trail. We were among the people who opposed the trail. We wondered if our letter was among those that "counted less" as the DNR was quoted as saying (10/14/09).
At our request Dave Schotzko, Trails and Waterways Supervisor, met with us in Bemidji Oct. 22. He went through the entire discernment process and allowed me to review the letters received from the public. I took issue with the characterization that "21 e-mails of opposition were from a chain e-letter sent out." (Editorial Oct. 17.)
On examination only one could have been construed as " ... simply clicked [by the recipient's] forward button to send it on to the DNR, voicing their opposition to the trail." Most of the letters from the "environmentalists" (38) were carefully crafted to express their concerns for location of the proposed trail, like the one from David Lien, Minnesota Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (Enterprise 10/21/09).
Yes, the Headwaters Canoe Club urged its members to submit public comments on the proposed trail. In early July, an Enterprise reporter came to photograph the group of nearly 20 canoes and kayaks that gathered to paddle the section of the Schoocraft River near the proposed trail.
On that paddle, I took the pictures of ATV incursion already on the Schoolcraft River, showing that they have entered the river, damaged the shoreland and left their impact in the river as a consequence. The pictures led the DNR to post the illegal access and monitor the area more closely.
The research and commentary that we received from a variety of sources were helpful to us as we commented in opposition to the Schoolcraft ATV trail. We were among the 45 comments in opposition. The proponents, represented by 19 letters, prevailed. We will continue to speak out on behalf of environmental protection whenever and where ever we can.
When there's a conflict in usage between "quiet" sports and "motorized" sports enthusiasts the "quiet" sports enthusiasts simply leave an area . "Compromise may bring best results" (10/17/09 Editorial) is a curious position for the Park Rapids Enterprise as it relates to another ATV trail. As documented in other research, losing quiet sport enthusiasts also means losing the considerable boost they bring to the local economy.
Florence Hedeen, Park Rapids