ATV Trails in Vilas County

By: Justin Ware
By: Justin Ware

Voters in northern Wisconsin have another hot issue on their ballots this Tuesday. They'll decide whether or not to let ATVs on public trails.

A Vilas County referendum will determine if ATVs will be allowed on county trails, something that many people in the area say would hurt the serene environment.

"These kind of interferences are never good," said Jerry Woolpy, a biologist opposed to ATV Trails. "And in general, there are unforeseen consequences that are often hard to recover from."

Wooply says ATVs disturb small plants and trees. He adds that the off-road vehicles also pollute water ways, which can be damaging to fish populations.

But local ATV enthusiasts say the economic impact of ATV riders would be a big boost to the Northwoods economy.

"And if you don't build roads, you can't have places for anybody to go, and who's gonna come up from way down south to bring horses up or take a walking trail if they don't have no place to go," said Gary Weiland, Mid-Wisconsin ATV Trailblazers.

Weiland says the trails would bring about 40 to 50 people to Vilas County on a daily basis.

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All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) Safety

  • Three-wheeled ATVs have unique handling characteristics. Beginning riders should get professional instruction and certification. Practice first on a level area, then in a more difficult but controlled environment, before riding an ATV in rough or unfamiliar terrain.

  • Injury investigations show that the majority of accidents occur when the ATV unexpectedly encounters an obstacle, such as a rock or ditch. Do not exceed speeds that are safe for the terrain you are traveling.

  • For several ATVs, the only suspension provided on the machine is the low pressure (two psi to six psi) balloon tires. Excessive speed, combined with rough terrain, can create enough pitch and bounce to cause the operator to lose control of the vehicle. Models with factory-built suspension systems are more stable and controllable over rough terrain.

  • Always wear an approved protective helmet and other protective gear.

  • Three-wheeled ATVs are designed for one rider. DO NOT ride double.

  • Do not operate ATVs when using alcoholic beverages.

  • Always read the instruction manual and follow the manufacturer’s guidance for use, maintenance and pre-use checks.

  • Do not use ATVs on paved roads or streets.

  • Observe local laws or regulations and any regulations that have been established for public recreational areas where ATV use is permitted.

  • Since ATVs are relatively small and low to the ground, they are difficult to see. Use lights, reflectors and flags to improve visibility.

    Proper Riding Posture

    • Keep your head and eyes up, looking forward.

    • Shoulders should be relaxed, with elbows bent slightly.

    • Keep your hands on the handlebars; knees in toward the gas tank.

    • Feet should be on the footrests, toes pointing straight ahead.

    Recommended Sizes for Age

    • Less than 70 cc: Six-years and older

    • 70-90 cc: Twelve-years and older

    • More than 90 cc: Sixteen-years and older

    Source: www.cpsc.gov (Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site) has contributed to this report.


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