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Akeley ATV club sees trail usage double

Timberland Dirt Devils ATV Club is applying for Grant-in-aid Trails (GIA) Assistance Program through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They maintain 42 miles of ATV trails east of State Hwy. 64 in Hubbard County and the Paul Bunyan State Forest.

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Timberland Dirt Devils ATV Club submitted photos of proposed work in 2022 with its Grant-in-Aid Program application to the Minnesota DNR. The county agreed to act as a local sponsor.
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Timberland Dirt Devils ATV Club reported a 200% increase in usage, noting “weekends are just continual ATV traffic.”

The Akeley nonprofit organization is applying for Grant-in-aid Trails (GIA) Assistance Program through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). They maintain 42 miles of ATV trails east of State Hwy. 64 in Hubbard County and the Paul Bunyan State Forest.

The Hubbard County Board discussed the matter at their Nov. 16 meeting.

Timberland Dirt Devils ATV Club is requesting $41,360 for fiscal year 2022. According to the application, the funds will be used primarily for routine trail maintenance, signage and printing 4,000 to 5,000 trail maps.

With the jump in trail usage, county commissioner Char Christenson wondered if the club is asking for more GIA dollars.

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Hubbard County Land Commissioner Mark Lohmeier said it’s up to the club to calculate costs and the DNR determines the final grant amount.

Christenson noted the board has received complaints about driveway damage from ATVs.

“I hope this includes maintenance along the ditches and driveways. I know that’s a mess and it’s hard to keep up. Hopefully, they can find a happy medium there,” she said.

Lohmeier noted a different club – the Akeley Paul Bunyan ATV Club – maintains trails west of State Hwy. 64, including County 25, “which has been a source of headaches for a long time.”

County commissioner David De La Hunt said he receives numerous phone calls about ditch issues. He suggested forming a committee with the land department, highway department and stakeholders. “We need to come to some sort of solution on this,” he said.

Christenson said, even where she lives along U.S. Hwy. 71, “it was amazing from the beginning of summer until September how the trail deteriorated, especially driveways. Some of those are paved. It’s a problem.”

Access trails are necessary for ATVs to get to the forests, De La Hunt said. “We just have to reexamine that policy, see if there’s a better way to do it.”

He said Crow Wing County may have a policy worth looking at, such as allowing ATV traffic on the shoulder of the road.

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Similarly, the Paul Bunyan Forest Riders submitted a GIA application to maintain 97 miles of the Martineau Off-Highway Motorcycle Trail. Their total grant request is $27,474.

The county board agreed to be the local sponsors for both applications. County commissioners Dan Stacey and Ted Van Kempen were absent.

In other business, the board did as follows:

  • Approved the annual community health contract with CHI St. Joseph’s Health. The purchase agreement totals $273,184, all of which is funded through federal and state dollars. By Minnesota Statute, the county is required to provide community health services.

  • Approved a design variance request for the Nevis Township bridge replacement project. The bridge, located over the Lake Belle Taine channel on Fairway Drive, serves a minimal number of residences on the island. State specifications require a design speed of 30 mph, but that would require excess fill, said assistant county highway engineer Jeff Adolphson. The county will seek a 20-mph grade from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which requires a county resolution.

  • Authorized the sheriff’s office to apply for a Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative Grant. If approved, the money would be used to purchase camera replacements and panic button upgrades throughout the courthouse. The grant requires a 50% match, which is not expected to exceed $40,000.

  • Approved the purchase of a 20-foot trailer for Sentence to Serve. The low quote was from King of the Road Trailers LLC of Bemidji for $5,900. Donations will cover the cost.

  • Approved the purchase of a 40-foot storage container for the county highway department. The low quote was $5,550 from Any Way You Want It Storage of Grand Rapids.

  • Approved the 2022 county fee schedule, including the new short-term rental permit fees.

  • Learned that Heartland Express will receive a replacement bus for the 2021 year. The $97,247 cost will be 100% funded from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The vendor is North Central Bus Sales of St. Cloud.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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