The All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota is having its fall convention Sept. 16-18 near Outing. Several people have called attention to the fact that Sept. 17 is also the small game hunting opener. Their e-mails contained several questions, which I'll take in order.
Q: Trail riding is part of ATVAM's convention and trail walking is a tradition for many grouse hunters. Isn't it likely these two user groups will clash?
A: Anything's possible, but whether or not it's likely is impossible to say. Maybe the grouse hunters will read this column and avoid Outing on Sept. 17.
Ray Bohn, spokesman for ATVAM, said they've never had conflicts with small game hunters at past fall conventions.
"We're more concerned about big game hunters," Bohn said. "We tend to stay out of the woods when deer season starts."
DNR Conservation Officer Ken Soring said most grouse hunters go out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. ATVAM's trail ride is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Many of the concerns of non-riders could be avoided if the All-Terrain Vehicle Association scheduled its fall convention for the weekend before the small game opener.
I don't know if you consider 9 a.m. early or 5 p.m. late, but I'd say that pretty much covers the hours that most grouse hunters are afield.
Q: Was ATVAM required to get a permit to have this event?
A: Yes, a permit has been issued by the DNR. Crow Wing County required a permit but Cass County didn't, said Cheryl Young, office administrator for ATVAM.
Q: Won't this convention increase the pressure put on our natural resources both during and after the convention? Don't ATV riders often return to areas they were introduced to at a convention?
A: "Don't they want our money up there?" Bohn asked. "Part of the purpose of the convention is to promote tourism. The smaller communities appreciate that. Two years ago in Gilbert we asked our members to bring $2 bills to the convention. By the end of the weekend Gilbert was inundated with $2 bills."
Q: Will the DNR beef up enforcement around Outing?
A: "Yes, I'm actually working on that right now," Soring said. "In the past we've had four or five officers on the ground and another in the air. One of the officers we wanted in Outing has been called away for hurricane duty."
Q: What is the current designation of the trails in the Outing area?
A: The designation is "managed," meaning ATVs can ride on trails not posted as closed. They cannot ride on trails designated for another use, such as snowmobiling, horseback riding or hiking. If a trail passes through a wetland it's also off limits.
Q: But nothing can stop them from going off trail in a managed forest. How can we prevent the inevitable?
A: "We encourage our riders to stay on the trails and it's been my observation that most of them do," Bohn said. "Is it legal for them to ride off trail? Yes, it's a managed forest. We hope people will stay in the proper areas. But we can't always control everyone's behavior."
What ATVAM can control is the timing of its fall convention. Many of the concerns of non-riders could be avoided if ATVAM scheduled its fall convention for the weekend before the small game opener.
VINCE MEYER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5862
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