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Comments sought on Miller-Black Bear area ATV trail plan

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Crow Wing County is seeking public feedback on the proposed Miller-Black Bear area all-terrain vehicle trail.

People will have about a month to provide their thoughts.

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The county is also now referring to the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) project as the Miller Hills Trail.

Written comments on the project will be accepted by the county’s Land Service Department until March 1.

The Cuyuna Iron Range Riders ATV Club would like to designate approximately 19 miles of existing and one mile of new trail construction in the Miller-Black Bear Area, northwest of the city of Crosby, as a designated multi-use motorized recreation trail system. Within county managed forestland, 17 miles of the total 20 miles in this project plan are being submitted for approval by Crow Wing County.

Comments already on the record include statements from property owners in the area concerned about the trail’s proximity to the Black Bear and Miller lakes. They also noted the flooding in the area during recent years and concern for damage from ATV riders who enjoy “mud hopping.”

“There is a very secluded lake with no cabins, Coles Lake, at the north end of the proposed trail,” Garrity Gerber wrote. “This lake could be devastated by an influx of people. ... There are many approved trails in the state, and many more qualified spaces to become trail. This is not be one of them.”

John Sisson wrote: “I believe that all public lands should be open to use by all of the public. As far as ATVs go al long as they are properly licensed and follow any applicable rules and regulations they should be allowed to go anywhere on public lands trail and township and county roads.”

In many trail segments, the county reported current allowed motorized uses include licensed highway vehicles, off-road vehicles (ORVs), ATVs, off-highway motorcycles (OHMs), and all forms of non-motorized recreation uses. If approved by both Crow Wing County and the state of Minnesota, development and maintenance of the recreation trail system could be paid for through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Grant-In-Aid (GIA) program and the Cuyuna Iron Range Riders ATV Club.

Two trail heads (parking) are proposed. The first being the field near Cole Lake to the west off of County Road 30 in Wolford Township. The second being Section 6 Mine Pit Lake, off of Iverson Road, in the city of Trommald.

The proposed recreation trail system will be open to recreational motorized use from May 1 through Oct. 31.

The proposed trail area encompasses more than 4,000 acres of county managed public land and more than 400 acres of DNR managed forestland bordering the Mississippi River to the west. Currently, the county reported there are more than 25 miles of existing trails open for motorized use currently exist on the county public forestland in the Miller-Black Bear area. The county stated less than 5 percent of the proposed trail system (about one mile) includes new trail construction. No parts of the proposed recreation trail system run on a local, county, or state public road right- of-ways. This proposal does not include plans for a connector trail to other motorized recreation trails.

The county reports the purpose of the trail is to provide diverse recreation opportunities accessible to people of all ages and abilities, while preserving the county’s high quality natural areas and open spaces.

If approved, the county would issue the Cuyuna Iron Range Riders ATV club a trail permit. A scenic picnic area may be put on the northern most area of the recreational trail system.

All trails will be identified for the intended uses to ensure users have a safe experience and the natural resources are protected. Junction trail maps will need to be provided by, installed, and maintained by the Cuyuna Iron Range Riders ATV Club.

The sheriff’s office and conservation officers are responsible to enforce violations such as reckless driving and driving while intoxicated and if the trail is granted it is expected to be part of periodic patrols. The Minnesota DNR’s Trial Ambassador Program is also expected to be involved if the trail is granted. All trail maintenance is proposed by the Cuyuna Iron Range Riders ATV Club.

The project plan, including a trail map, may be accessed through the county website: www.co.crow-wing.mn.us/index.aspx?nid=291 with a link at the bottom of the page to the Miller-Black Bear Lake trail.

Copies of the project plan also are available from the Land Services Department in Brainerd during business hours or by contacting the office at 824-1115.

Written comments may be emailed to: landservices@co.crow-wing.mn.us (Please include “Miller Hills” in the subject line), or mailed/faxed to: Crow Wing County Land Services Department, Attention: Miller Hills, Land Services Building, 322 Laurel St., Suite 12, Brainerd, MN 56401, Fax: (218) 824-1070 Fax.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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