The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, to hear public suggestions for improving the motorized and non-motorized recreational trail system in the Chengwatana, Nemadji, General Andrews and St. Croix state forests in Pine County. The open house will be at Rutledge Community Center, 7369 Highway 61, Rutledge (about 90 minutes north of the Twin Cities).
The DNR invites the public to stop by during the open house to review maps of existing and proposed trails, discuss the DNR proposals, and present their own recommendations for changes to the trail system and trail management.
In 2005 and 2006, the DNR completed classification and trail designation plans for the Chengwatana, Nemadji, General Andrews and St. Croix state forests. It classified all four forests as "limited" with respect to motor vehicle use, which means off-highway vehicles (OHVs) -
including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) - may only use trails specifically signed for the specific use. Motor vehicles (including all OHVs and highway-licensed vehicles) are allowed on all forest roads, unless the road is posted closed to a specific use. During specific seasons, licensed hunters may use ATVs off-trail for hunting and retrieving big game, constructing deer stands and trapping.
To improve trail sustainability and enhance user experiences, the DNR is considering adding new trails and trail connections, changing allowable trail uses, designating areas where motor vehicle use is restricted during trapping and fall hunting seasons, and closing unsustainable trails.
The DNR will use the comments received at the open house to develop a draft proposal for trail improvements. The DNR will also accept written suggestions through 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 19. Written comments may be submitted to Rebecca Wooden, OHV planner, DNR Parks and Trails, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4039 or email@example.com.
Before the draft proposal is finalized, the DNR will hold another public meeting and provide a 60-day comment opportunity.
For more information about the trail planning process or the open house, visit www.mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/ohv/designation/index.html) or call the Division of Parks and Trails at 218-999-7945 (Grand Rapids office) or 651-259-5584 (central office).