Farm Horizons, May 2011

State law limits ATV use in ditches to protect nesting sites

By Ivan Raconteur

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds ATV riders that state law prohibits the riding of Class 1 all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in ditches in the agricultural zone between April 1 and Aug. 1.

The agricultural zone lies south of a line that runs west to east, approximately from Moorhead to Taylors Falls along Highways 10 and 95. It roughly covers the southern half of the state. This does not apply to ATVs licensed and used for agricultural purposes or on grant-in-aid (GIA) ATV trails. Class 2 ATVs cannot be operated in ditches at any time (Class 1 ATVs are those less than 1,000 pounds. Class 2 ATVs are those from 1,000 to 1,800 pounds).

“With warm weather on the way, many OHV riders are eager to get out and ride,” said Maj. Roger Tietz, DNR enforcement operations support manager. “Roadsides, especially in southern and western Minnesota, provide nesting sites for birds and animals that nest on the ground or in low vegetation during the spring and summer. Minnesota law protects those nesting sites and habitat for animals like pheasants, gray partridge, rabbits, waterfowl and songbirds.”

The DNR temporarily closes certain state forest roads and trails to highway-licensed vehicles and recreational vehicles every spring and early summer due to wet conditions and soft soils. The DNR will post closure signs at entry points and at parking lots in affected state forests. Riders are advised to check road and trail conditions and temporary closures before going out to ride.

Current trail condition information is available on the DNR website and from the DNR information center at (651) 296 6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367. Conditions are updated by 2 p.m. every Thursday.

Two types of registration

In 2006, the Minnesota State Legislature created two classes of ATVs.

The private/agricultural class applies to those used exclusively for agricultural activities, harvesting wood, or on private property.

All others require a recreational registration.

The registration fee for new (unregistered) ATVs is $45 plus an $8.50 issuing fee. The registrations are good for three calendar years.

The fee for renewals is $45 plus a $6 issuing fee. Renewals are also good for three years.

The agricultural registration fee is $6, plus an $8.50 issuing fee, and this registration is valid until the ownership of the ATV is transferred. All ATVs in Minnesota must be registered, even if used exclusively on private property.

New ATV laws approved in 2010

These new laws came about through the 2010 legislative session and went into effect May 18, 2010.

• The defining maximum weight of a class 1 ATV was raised from 900 to 1,000 pounds. The weight of class 2 ATVs, 900 to 1,500 pounds was increased to 1,000 to 1,800 pounds.

• All-terrain vehicles 25 years and older are exempt from registration if they were originally produced as a separate, identifiable make by a manufacturer. ATVs 25 years and older may be registered for unlimited use. This registration is non-transferable. Collector ATV registration does not expire. It is valid until the ownership is transferred.

• The Non-Resident ATV trail pass is not required if the non-resident is operating an ATV registered in Minnesota.

• Recreational riding restriction - A person may not ride recreationally during the firearms deer hunting season on DNR-managed forest lands in those areas of the state where deer may be taken by rifle. Except: a person in possession of a valid firearms deer hunting license may operate an off-highway vehicle (OHV) before and after legal shooting hours and between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

• Residents and non-residents - A safety training certificate is not required for youth under 12 in organized contests on public lands or public waters. Youth under 12 may operate an ATV 90 cc or less, provided they “fit” the machine and are supervised by a person 18 or older.

• Non-resident youth ages 12 to 15 may operate an ATV on public lands and waters or state/grant-in-aid trails if they have in possession proof of completing an ATV safety course offered by the ATV Safety Institute or another state and are accompanied by a person 18 years old or older who has a valid driver’s license.

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