WALKER -- Motorized traffic into Deep Portage Conservation Reserve will be limited to a few signed access roads leading to parking areas.
Hunters will be expected to continue on foot this fall under a plan the Cass County Board approved Tuesday following a study and compromise recommendation from a citizen committee representing motorized and non-motorized interests.
Land Commissioner Norm Moody reminded the county board Deep Portage opened in 1973 with only one motorized public access to the educational buildings.
Most of the trails and roads cut into the reserve since that time have been for timber cutting access, snowmobile trails or ski trails.
At no time during those years have motorized vehicles been permitted on the snowmobile or ski trails. Most of the timber access roads have been closed to motorized traffic after cutting was finished, he said.
People discovering some of those trails, however, have crossed private land to access them, torn down gates or gone over earthen berms to reach logging roads.
The approved compromise gives access from several points going only about three-fourths of a mile into the reserve to a parking area.
Land department and Deep Portage personnel will be in the reserve to enforce the compromise solution this deer hunting season, Moody told the board.
None of the roads will cross all the way through the reserve for motorized vehicles.
There was not an issue of motorized access, Moody told the board, until all terrain vehicles became popular through the 1990s. Those vehicles could cross areas pickup trucks could not. They also have damaged trails and roads when users have not operated them responsibly, Moody added.
The compromised plan will open more of the reserve legally to motorized traffic, but will more strictly limit illegal use that has occurred in the past.
Maps showing access routes, parking lots and hiking trails will be available from the Cass County Land Department at Backus at 947-3338.
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