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WATVA President Randy Harden Explains Critical Vilas County Vote This Week

Posted by on in WATVA News

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

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Burnett County Trail Re-route

Posted by on in WATVA News

Summer-Use ATV/UTV Trails remain open, except for one reroute:

Trail 8, East of Danbury from Airfield Road to Lakes Drive, is closed due to high water.  Please use CCC Road as an alternate route until further notice.

During the summer season, (through September 15), you may operate your ATV/UTV on State-funded Summer Use Trails ONLY.  Summer-use trails are designated with a white blazer.

Trails will be closed in the event of a Red Flag Alert due to fire danger.  

Remember, it is illegal to ride your ATV/UTV on the Gandy Dancer Trail in Burnett County south of Highway 77 at this time of year.

Some township ordinances allow for ATV/UTV use of the town roads and others do NOT allow it.  It is the rider’s responsibility to contact the township in which you plan to ride in and get the current rules pertaining to ATVs/UTVs and the town roads.  Please contact the individual townships for their rules and regulations.

NO OFF TRAIL USE IS ALLOWED  Please stay on the trails.  Much of our trail system is on private land, and we appreciate the easements granted by our generous land owners. It only takes one person to have the entire trail system shut down.  

Caution: Groomers and trail maintenance vehicles may be on the trails at any time.

All snowmobiles, ATVs and UTVs must be registered or licensed to ride on our trails.

It is your responsibility to know where you are and whose property you are on.  Please be careful, be respectful to other trail users, and ride safely.

Contact Information

If you need any maps, or if you need any other information, please contact Burnett County Tourism at 1-800-788-3164 or feel free to email them at

To contact Burnett County Forest & Parks, please visit their website at www.burnettcounty.com/trails.

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Urgent Call To Action in Vilas County!

Posted by on in WATVA News
To all WATVA members:

Most that follow our organization realize our leadership team is generally very measured in our response to ATV access issues. We've always gotten our best results for the ATV program here in Wisconsin by being willing to sit at the table to logically negotiate issues that are just part of the process when proposing responsible trail and routes systems within each county or jurisdiction being considered. We also understand and accept that ATV trails are not a good fit for everywhere in our state, all the time, just as bicycle and other types of recreational trail access must also fit within the landscape of the community they are being proposed in. Generally speaking, all trail uses have their pros and cons but overall we’re all outdoor based recreationalists, each type of trail group must organize and become accountable for their proposed segment of trail systems.

However, this post and request of everyone has a much different flavor. Our club leaders in Vilas and surrounding counties have been put through the proverbial wringer in such an unfair and biased way, it’s now time for our community to speak up or forever hold your peace. 

Vilas (and Oneida) County ATV and UTV groups need our help now! The battle for ATV access in Vilas County has once again heated up. This is your opportunity to support the local ATV’ers to help them open up their own system which will add to overall trail and route miles here in Wisconsin. Approval from the Vilas County Board would also allow some long awaited and much needed positive economic impact for the small businesses that want to cater to our ATV & UTV community. 

You’ve all heard “silent but deadly” in one context or another and “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. Without writing a large book going back many years, I cannot begin to tell you how the ATV issues in Vilas County are unlike any other we’ve faced in other northern counties due to a very slanted and at times vicious anti-ATV movement by some locals that oppose ANY motorized recreation. This same local contingent is very “in your face” and frankly have been successful in spreading half-truths and in some cases complete untruths to the leaders in county government. It’s now time we ALL speak up and let the Vilas County board know how the rest of Wisconsin works. It’s time to dispel these untrue statements being handed to them over and over to the point some board members actually believe these naysayers. 

The local clubs and your association have tried multiple times, going back over 10 years or more to get the real and truthful information to the county board as to how our recreational sport can and is managed successfully and responsibly across our home state. Every time this anti-ATV group intervenes and up until now has successfully convinced the Vilas County Board that the ice caps will surely melt and the world will soon end if ANY ATV system is ever put into place in Vilas County. I should also mention this same group has in the past, even resorted to threatening the local businesses by saying they’ll boycott the businesses that show support for an ATV system in Vilas County!

Now is the time for our ATV supporters to get real squeaky! Our large ATV community cannot be silent. Our local leaders and the Vilas County board needs your help! ATV/UTV recreation will remain non-existent in Vilas County if we, as a motorized recreationists, don’t speak up to support our sport. A recent and new development has occurred recently so now is the time, or we may never have the chance to ever get any systems within this county. 

So what do we do about it you may be asking?
  1. We've been trying to get the right to ride in Vilas county for over 10 years. This is our opportunity. We need you and everybody you can get, to come and show your support on July 22nd at 6 pm at the Arbor Vitae town hall (http://www.townofarborvitae.org/?q=node/3). The Vilas County Board of Supervisors will hold the monthly meeting there and take up the matter of amending the 15 year Vilas County Forest plan, to allow the use of ATV’s on Vilas county lands. Remember, county lands include county roads. We need to see you there, it doesn't make any difference what town or county that you reside. Please be there. We do have some supervisors that are on the fence and they wonder how much support there really is for ATV’s. We need to fill the town hall with “Pro” ATV people before 6 pm.  
  2. Here is a link to the county board supervisors: http://www.co.vilas.wi.us/board.html. You need to email, call them or send a letter before July 22nd and tell them you support the use of ATV’s/UTV’s on designated trails and routes in Vilas County. Be sure to thank them for the opportunity to comment in support of ATV’s and UTV’s.  
  3. Pass this information on to get more people involved.

We will be our own worst enemy if we choose to be silent. This is the time and place, you / we have the power to make a difference but the only way that happens is when you make it known to the government officials who are making the decisions that will affect the future of ATV use in Vilas County.

Within minutes of the county setting the agenda for the meeting on July 22nd at the Arbor Vitae Town Hall which showed there was this ATV/UTV issue on it, the anti-ATV movement I spoke of were quickly making calls and sending letters of their own to oppose ANY ATV use in Vilas County. These people are well organized and dedicated to stopping any use of ATV’s in Vilas county. They don’t seem to care what is fair and an equal use of county lands, they apparently want it all for their own use. 
Thanks in advance, our local clubs and your organization is counting on you all. Let’s show ‘em what we have, quickly and decisively!

WATVA Leadership Team 
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Discover Wisconsin Featured Episode: ATVenturing Through Wisconsin

Posted by on in WATVA News

ATVing and UTVing are increasing in popularity with outdoor recreationalist. Many have found the thrill of traveling through wooded trails and routes on four wheels. With that, more and more destinations throughout Wisconsin are catering to these enthusiasts.

Watch the full episode here: http://kididdel.com/Channels/ChannelView/tabid/66/Default.aspx?rid=gTL%2f%2bVBQg499S62OtH5BvQ%3d%3d

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Washburn Ranger District Trail & Recreation Report

Posted by on in WATVA News

ATV Trails

The Iron River Trail (Trail 31) from the junction of FR 242 to FR 236 (Brinks Road) will be closed beginning May 22, 2014 to about August 1, 2014.  The temporary reroute will require riders coming off the Iron River Trail heading east to take FR 242 east to FR 236 south to get back on the Iron River Trail (and vice versa if traveling on the trail heading west towards FR236.).  There will be ongoing timber falling and hauling on the trail.  Please observe the temporary reroute to ensure public safety and allow the contractor to accomplish their work without incident.  


Grading has been done on a majority of the trails across the Washburn Ranger District.  With the high winds over the last few days, there may be some down trees or limbs on the trail.  The ATV trails on National Forest System lands are managed by a trail class system.  The Bayfield County ATV map can help in planning your ride or learn more about what trail classes are and what sections of trails are identified per each class.  Just a reminder that the ATV trails on the Washburn Ranger District are only open to 50 inch or less wheeled UTV’s at this time.  If your measure from the outside of one tire to the other and it is over 50 inches, your UTV is not legal for use on the Washburn Ranger District, with the exception for the Drummond Connector Trail. Please ride responsibly and within your skill level for trail conditions.

Forest Service Campgrounds 

As of July 3, 2014, here are the most current list of available sites at the campgrounds on the Washburn Ranger District: Horseshoe Lake Campground- 11 sites available (note: the water system was temporarily up but has been shut down due to needed parts to make repairs.); Birch Grove Campground- 7 sites available; Perch Lake Campground- 10 sites available; Wanoka Campground- 19 sites available; and Two Lakes Campground- 65-75% of the campground is full with all reservation sites taken.  If you would like to make a reservation at Two Lakes Campground after this holiday weekend, go online to: www.recreation.gov ; or via the phone at: 1-877-444-6777.  Please note that you must make a camping reservation at least 48 hours in advance.

Annual Visitor Use Passes

Just a reminder, the annual Forest user pass or payment of the daily user fee is required at most recreation sites across the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.  The 2014 annual Forest user pass is available at local vendors, Forest Service offices, or online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/cnnf/passes-permits and click on the link on the right hand side of the screen that says “purchase your daily and annual Forest pass here.”  The Forest user pass is $20/vehicle sticker and a second sticker for an additional $10.  The 2014 passes are valid until the end of March 2015.  Please remember the user fee is required for use of the facilities and the day use recreation area- not just for parking.  If you enter designated fee areas, please observe the required fees to use these sites.

Please be safe and enjoy the beauty of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

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