ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

First Cass County ATV, OHV trail system saw heavy use, damage

PINE RIVER -- Miles Kuschel, Ansel Town Board chair, updated Cass County commissioners during a county board meeting Tuesday in that township about all terrain and off highway vehicle use in the Foothills State Forest recreation area there.

1804074+0618_atvs_lake.jpg
Foothills State Forest has 8.6 miles of cross-country ski trails, 40 miles of ATV and OHV trails, 11 miles of off-road vehicle trails, plus areas for hiking, mountain biking and motorcycling. It is located west of Pine River. Illustration.

PINE RIVER - Miles Kuschel, Ansel Town Board chair, updated Cass County commissioners during a county board meeting Tuesday in that township about all terrain and off highway vehicle use in the Foothills State Forest recreation area there.

Off road use is significant, Kuschel said.

Historically, Minnesota DNR designated Spider Lake in Foothills State Forest as the state's first ATV and OHV trail system. It drew more use than the land could sustain at the time. Camping areas were trashed. Trails were destroyed by rutting and washouts. It all spilled over onto neighboring private property as well.

Today, there are about 50 locations in the state where people can ride OHVs and ATVs, according to County Administrator Robert Yochum. Cass County successfully obtained state legislation to prevent the state from designating such a trail system again in the county without first obtaining county board approval, Yochum said.

While Spider Lake and the Foothills still see heavy use, Kuschel said the DNR has moved camping sites away from private properties, which helped somewhat diminish spill-over onto private land. He also thanked the sheriff for regular patrols along trails in Ansel Township.

ADVERTISEMENT

Foothills State Forest has 8.6 miles of cross-country ski trails, 40 miles of ATV and OHV trails, 11 miles of off-road vehicle trails, plus areas for hiking, mountain biking and motorcycling. It is located west of Pine River.

Jeff Woodford, veterans service officer, informed the county board Tuesday the number of veterans in the county has declined the last seven years, but federal Veterans Administration benefits they receive have increased.

In 2014, there were 3,354 vets in Cass, down 119 from 2007. The average annual expenditure per veteran, however, has risen from $5,299 in 2007 to $8,368 in 2014. This includes compensation and pensions. It includes education and vocational services. It includes medical care.

Woodford has completed a training and certification to enable him now to directly get information from and enter data into the federal veteran computer system. This speeds his access to VA records and enables him to update those records directly as he makes benefit changes for local vets.

Steven Sether, assistant Cass veterans service officer, is in the process of taking this training and expects also to be certified soon, Woodford said.

Cass commissioners issued a certificate of appreciation to Thistledew Juvenile Program for the successful years of service they provided to Cass County juveniles. The state is closing Thistledew.

Probation Director Jim Schneider told the board about 300 to 500 Cass teenagers have

successfully gone through Thistledew, with a good success rate. Thistledew was established in 1955 as a Youth Conservation Commission forestry camp for young offenders, ages 13 to 17. It involved a wilderness work program, had chemical dependency treatment and encouraged youths to look at the direction they were taking in their lives.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the 1995 Legislative Audit, Thistledew was rated as one of the most successful delinquency prevention programs in Minnesota, Schneider said.

The board approved extending through 2018 an agreement with Gull Lake Walking and Hiking Trail Committee to continue to seek from the Regional Park and Trail Commission a designation as a regional trail system.

This group hopes to create a trail system around Gull Lake and find funding to develop it.

Environmental Services Director John Ringle reported on how the $65,075.05 state Aquatic Invasive Species grant is being spent in Cass:

• Employment resource consultants for contract AIS inspectors - $26,488.05.

• Fishing the Wildside, portion of multicounty PSA awareness project - $15,500.

• RMB Labs to produce Cass AIS lake risk assessment analysis and reports - $5,250.

• Reimburse Crooked Lake Township for decontamination unit - $7,499.99.

ADVERTISEMENT

• Materials and supplies for inspectors - $943.

• Cass Lake Associations - public awareness grant match - $4,245.39.

• Tablets for inspectors taking surveys and recording boater data - $5,148.62.

The county board approved spending $5,985.54 to change 27 light fixtures at the garbage and recycling transfer station north of Pine River from fluorescent to LED fixtures and replace bulbs.

Expected energy savings payback is estimated at 8.8 years.

The commissioners awarded contracts to low bidders to mow the county's forest trails.

Northfork Boulders and Excavating will mow the Cut Lake and Hiram trails for $1,400. Mutch's Forestry Services will mow the Snowflea and Mayo Creek trails for $675; the Vermillion, Thunder Hollow, Washburn and Old grade trails for $2,850; and Homebrook Walking trail for $695.

Cass health, human and veterans services has received an additional $593,306 grant to enable extending family planning services through June 30, 2017.

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Inmates in-custody in the Mille Lacs County jail in Milaca, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Hubbard County jail in Park Rapids, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Todd County jail in Long Prairie, Minnesota