Forest Service grapples with ATV
By Rick LaFrombois
Stevens Point Journal
As the U.S. Forest Service rewrites its rules to catch
up with the explosion of all-terrain vehicles in Wisconsin,
riders are already taking matters into their own hands.
The Nicolet National Forest in northeast Wisconsin has
no ATV trails within its 658,000 acres, but that hasn't
To weigh in
The U.S. Forest Service extended its public comment period
about all-terrain vehicle use in the Chequamegon-Nicolet
National Forests to Aug. 11. To comment:
Mail to Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest Plan Revision DEIS,
P.O. Box 221090, Salt Lake City UT 84122-1090.
Fax to 1-801-517-1014.
E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"You have people riding off-road, and they have
no awareness of the impact on the area that they're riding
through," said Deb Kidd, a Forest Service public
affairs officer out of Rhinelander.
She doesn't blame only the riders.
"We recognize that motorized recreation is an appropriate
use in the forest, but it's about managing it and having
it fit in with this complex balance that must be achieved,"
In other words, ATVs shouldn't interfere with other recreational
uses, such as the silent sports of hiking, mountain-biking
and canoeing, or with natural resources, she said.
To that end, the Forest Service in Wisconsin is revising
both its forest plans - for Nicolet and Chequamegon national
forests. The Chequamegon has 850,000 acres in northwest
Wisconsin extending up to Lake Superior.
Both forests were established in 1933 and are now jointly
managed as the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forests. But
unlike Nicolet, Chequamegon has 284 miles of ATV trails.
Citing those differences and the damage and conflicts
that ATVs can cause, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth
said the agency must develop a more coherent plan regarding
Proposals range from allowing 284 to 394 miles of ATV
trails in Chequamegon and zero to 180 miles in Nicolet.
The Forest Service still is taking public comment on
the issue of ATV use in the forests.
Frank Trimmel, a Wisconsin ATV Association regional coordinator,
said the state has between 3,000 and 4,000 miles of ATV
trails, compared with about 25,000 miles of snowmobile
trails. He predicts the number of registered ATVs in Wisconsin,
currently fewer than 200,000, could soon outnumber the
227,000 registered snowmobiles in 2002.