In the fall of 2008, the Chippewa National Forest closed the Woodtick Trail and hundreds of miles of roads to ATVs and other off-highway vehicles. Public hearings were held, but there was no publicity of the road closings in local media. The "NO OHV" signs went up and that was that (fines totaling $175).
Last summer, the Woodtick Wheelers ATV/OHM Club was formed in response to those road closings.
The club quickly grew to over 150 members, showing the impact on residents and cabin owners, many who now have no access to the public forest.
Two weeks ago, the CNF sent out information packets announcing its plan to close another 27 miles of roads in the Remer area, not just to ATVs but "to all traffic." There was an announcement on the CNF Web site, but I couldn't find any articles in local newspapers informing the public about the road closings.
Not only was there little or no publicity, the announcement was made mid-winter when many people who use those roads are not even in the area, and it gives the public just 30 days to comment.
The CNF needs greater transparency as it continues to close or "obliterate" (their word) roads used for decades by hunters, hiker, and everyone who enjoys the National Forest in their car, truck or ATV.
Those who run the Chippewa National Forest are not the "landowners of the National Forest," as their public liaison officer told our ATV club. They are the caretakers. We, the public, are the landowners. And we deserve to be treated as such.
For road closing information and maps, go to the CNF Web site. Hurry, the deadline for your comments is Feb. 19.
Woodtick Wheelers ATV/OHM Club
Maple Grove, Minn.