DNR investigates unauthorized trails

An investigation by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers has revealed unauthorized trails were cut in the Paul Bunyan State Forest.

An investigation by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers has revealed unauthorized trails were cut in the Paul Bunyan State Forest.

The report was drafted by conservation officers Mike Lawrence and Colleen Adam after conducting interviews with members of the Paul Bunyan Forest Riders, Norseman and Northern Lights motorcycle clubs and DNR officials in 2005.

The nine-month inquiry is the first investigation of unauthorized trails on state land.

The Martineau off-highway motorcycle trails are two loops, totaling 67 miles, in the southern unit of the Paul Bunyan State Forest.

A network of single-track trails was established in the forest in the 1970s, according to Mike Carroll, DNR regional director. In the late '70s, the DNR worked with clubs to provide optional routes, with grant-in-aid funding.


But through the years, without formal internal review and transitional DNR staff, unauthorized OHM trails were being created, Carroll said. "There was a communication breakdown,"

"Footwork" by DNR personnel during the re-routing process of trails in 2004 uncovered the problem, Carroll said. Roughly 5,000 linear feet of unauthorized cutting was found.

Global positioning system (GPS) mapping verified the infraction.

The investigation began last May after a forester complained of trails being developed in the Paul Bunyan State Forest without a permit.

According to the law enforcement report compiled by Lawrence and Adam, interviews were conducted with Floyd Martineau who "admitted the clubs have re-routed trail segments for various reasons," citing over use, active timber harvest or environmental damage from improper trail placement.

Martineau indicated several active club members, including himself, had done trail realignments, according to the report. He stated he was aware authority needed to be granted by the Trails and Waterways Division of the DNR before major projects are initiated.

But he also stated, according to the report, it was "difficult getting forestry to meet with them due to time constraints and scheduled event needs."

Since 2004, the DNR has "tightened up" the grant-in-aid procedures, Carroll said. "With more technology, there's more scrutiny. There was no additional malfeasance in 2005."


He said there appears to have been no misuse of funds on the corridor by Martineau or other longtime members of the club. He said he's found them to be a "reliable" group to work with.

The Martineau Trail is considered to be one of the top 10 motorcycling trails in the country, Carroll said. Club members, who for years have taken an active role in its maintenance, do not want to impugn that image.

The damage does not warrant issuing a ticket, Carroll said.

The funding process may be tightened, however, with maintenance on the Martineau becoming an open bid versus a grant-in-aid procedure. "It's a more open process.

"It's an important issue," he said. "It wasn't as tight as it should be. But we're making progress."

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