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Debate Over Snowmobile, ATV/UTV Trail Maintenance Triggered in Vilas County

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Snowmobile routes and ATV/UTV routes sometimes use the same trail segments on the Vilas County Forest, but often maintenance issues develop between the two groups.

Last week the Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club of Eagle River requested to be given upkeep responsibility of the current ATV/UTV trails south of Bauer’s Dam.

But the Landover ATV/UTV Club of Conover is opposed to that action.

Sno-Eagles representative Howard Wolf indicated their membership voted to become a duel sports club and currently maintain 90 miles of snowmobile trails.

“If we are awarded the ATV/UTV miles discussed, our club will ensure they are always safe, sign compliant, and well-groomed for our guests to the Eagle River area,” Wolf said.

Roger Flaherty, President of the Landover ATV/UTV club, was strongly opposed.

“We remain firm in our objection to this request,” Flaherty said. “For the past six years Landover has been the contractor for this trail maintenance. The Sno-Eagles do not have any right or standing to initiate this request as they did.”

The county cannot approve the Sno-Eagles request, according to committee chair Holly Tomlanovich who urged cooperation rather than confrontation.

“The county does not have responsibility to take away a recreation trail developed by one group and give it to another,” Tomlanovich said. “Again, we do not have authority to assign trails and the county does not need to be involved; you need to cooperate with each other.”

Other committee members were in agreement, with Mike Mackenzie saying, “It’s best to keep us from dividing groups, they need to work together.”

Dan Swiecichowski also urged the groups to work together.

“Communication with groups is vitally important,” he said.

Another ATV/UTV trail proposal from E. Buckatabon Road to Buckatabon Shelter to Deep Lake Road was tabled after objections were raised by Fred Mathwig, a property owner near Deep Lake.

“This is a very wet area, and we are concerned over invasive species being brought in and noise pollution,” Mathwig said. “There have been serious dumping of household goods in the area such as mattresses but more importantly there is a viable population of native Spruce Grouse and these machines could negatively impact them.”

Forest administrator Al Murray agreed the area indeed had wet soils along with summer and fall use more related to bicycle use and water access to the shelter, saying, “ATV/UTV use would not be compatible with more silent types of use.”

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