Herald JournalHerald Journal, Jan. 24, 2005

Born to ride – but where?

By Liz Hellmann

Members of the Open Trails ATV Club were born to ride, but the problem is finding a place to do just that in Wright County.

The non-profit organization was established in February of 2000 and draws a large part of its 125 members from the county, in which there are currently no ATV trails available.

The club is working hard to create a place for its members to ride locally.

“We’d rather be proactive and establish a place for us to ride,” Mike Rosonke of Monticello said.

The club emphasizes respect of others’ property and being well behaved.

“There’s a saying we practice,” commented Montrose member Jim Tourville. “Ride as if everybody’s watching, and talk as if everybody’s is listening.”

The club board began the process of creating local trails a little more than a year ago by contacting the Wright County Parks Department.

“We need a governmental sponsor or entity that can handle paper work and funnel the money,” club board member Ron Peura of Buffalo said.

The Wright County Parks department has agreed to sponsor Open Trails ATV Club through state grants. There are 220,000 registered ATVs in Minnesota, 7,000 of which are located in Wright County.

The money received from registering these vehicles is put into a state fund, which is available for grant use. Rosonke is hoping to use state grants to fund much needed trails in the area. “Not a lot of it’s being used, there is money available,” Rosonke said.

“Trails would also keep money here for the local economy instead of people putting them on trailers and heading north every weekend,” Rosonke said.

Members of the Open Trail ATV Club feel trails would benefit everyone by giving them a place to ride and protecting landowners by keeping ATVs off publicly and privately owned land and fields.

“This will give people an idea of where they can and can’t ride,” Peura said.

The Wright County Board of Commissioners agreed with the Open Trails ATV Club board when three of the five Wright County board members voted to look into building trails this past fall.

“That was a major step in our process,” Rosonke said.

Since then the club has proposed to four townships the idea of using township roads and ditches to build trails. “We really want to work together with the townships, we don’t want to shove anything down anybody’s throat,” Rosonke said.

The club has mapped out plans for setting up trails in Middleville and Woodland Townships and is in the process of setting a date to present the maps to the townships.

Open Trails is also in the process of adopting Red Top Trail in Isle, Minn. The club would be in charge of trail maintenance and other duties, similar to what it will be handling if they can open up trials in the Wright County area.

Open Trails also holds monthly meetings, attends fairs, distributes safety information and sponsors events and activities for its members, ranging in age from 21 to 80 years old.

In Minnesota there are 60 local clubs like Open Trails, and the ATV Association of Minnesota has 10,500 members.

The number of ATV riders continues to grow. More than 2,700 kids age 12-15 received safety certification last year, and Open Trails trained 177 of those kids.

Open Trails hopes this will be the beginning of a long project of building trails that will give local members and kids a chance to ride without their ATVs spending the first hour on a trailer heading north.

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