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Open Forum: Nystrom, Trusty got it right

I would like to publicly thank County Commissioners Nystrom and Trusty for supporting the residents of Crow Wing County that are opposed to the Fort Ripley — Pine Center ATV Trail. They are the only two commissioners that got it right — this trail will become an ATV superhighway that will put more ATVs on the right-of-way to compete with vehicular traffic, resulting in compromised public safety on the roads. Many roadway constrictions like bridge decks, culverts, and adjacent wetlands encountered on this trail will force ATVs to suddenly emerge out of the ditch and onto the shoulder of the road. The margin of error is going to be very thin when two oncoming cars and one or more ATVs meet at one of these constriction points. And with the establishment of this public trail, this kind of scenario is going to be much more frequent than with the sporadic local ATV traffic that currently exists. 

Sadly, Thiede, Houge, and Franzen weren't interested in the concerns or public safety of their constituency; rather they thought it more important to promote tourism, so they voted for the trail. Perhaps they would have voted differently if this trail traversed their district, impacted their neighbors, or was located in their front yard.  

Beware of ATV clubs that want to establish a trail in your neighborhood. All they have to do is file an application with the county, which will shepherd the proposal through the approval process, making sure that public input is restricted, and that controversy in public forums is minimized. And for those of you driving on county roads that parallel this trail, be sure that your seat belt is securely fastened — the next thing to leap out of the ditch at you may not be a deer.

Ron Swenson

St Mathias Township

Crow Wing County