I could write a science fiction novel about the 14 + years that our ATV community has been trying to deal with the county board and decision makers in Vilas County, always trying to propose an ATV / UTV trail system network but to no avail. At every turn and intersection, using the same methods that were acceptable and successful in other counties and communities to at least make a proposal for consideration, it pains me to admit it but the anti-ATV sentiment has been very successful in derailing our efforts every single time in Vilas County.
Their methods used to dissuade the Vilas County leaders has always been, in my opinion, underhanded and by using vicious attacks that virtually spread false harms we ATVers supposedly do to the rest of the world. They always used “unmanaged ATV recreation” to improperly portray to their Vilas County audience, what would surely happen in Vilas County if ATV trails were ever established, even though our Wisconsin program is all about “managed recreation”. As we all well know, there is no comparison
I’m delighted to share with you, things have finally changed in Vilas County, as evidenced by the happening this past Tuesday. To start with, the citizens of Vilas County were successful in electing 9 new county board members this past spring. The new members, together with a few on the existing board that knew full well of the slanted picture being presented, were then put to the test at the Vilas County board meeting on July 22. The agenda item of the board was to update their county plan that currently disallowed any ATV or motorized vehicle (other than snowmobiles) to be considered in any proposal for an ATV trail and/or route system network. The update was to remove the Atv exclusion.
This is where the rest of the ATV / UTV community came into the mix. WATVA asked you to contact the Vilas County board to share your positive story about our sport, to express support and ask them to approve the updated county plan so our local clubs could at least make a proposal with a chance of success if their plans were well conceived. Well, respond you did! I am beyond delighted to report the county supervisors / board members were indeed bombarded with your e-mails and calls. Yes, the anti-crowd did their homework too, in fact taking it to a “full court press” using more slanted and untrue information, again trying to convince the supervisors to hold tight on the change that would at least allow ATV use proposals.
To go along with all the calls and e-mails, there were 8 speakers allowed that evening, 4 were allowed that opposed the change in the county plan, with the other 4 being pro ATV and supporting the plan change. I was honored to be asked as one of the “pro ATV” speakers, representing the clubs and members across the region. I was also glad my turn was last, as the new anti-ATV effort took yet another new and different slant. I felt I was able to counter their points, though my part was admittedly easier because all I had to do was first know the subject matter and then tell the county supervisors the truth!
WATVA did offer a written testimony, I thought it appropriate to share with you if you wish to read it. I have no doubt in my mind this is not the last we’ll hear from the other side, of that I am sure but for now, let’s share a success story for “our team” and feel good about the chances for Vilas County in the near future! Know that your call to action was heard loud and clear. I cannot express how rewarding it was to see the hundreds of ATV / UTV riders and support system show up at the county board meeting! Thank you for being involved.
Click the link to download the letter we sent to the Vilas County Board: Vilas-County-Input-7-22-14.pdf