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Outdoors, Leisure, and Sports

More Vilas County highways may open for ATV/UTV’s

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The Vilas County board of supervisors will be asked January 25 to vote on opening more Vilas County trunk highways to ATV/UTV travel after the county highway committee last week approved opening all county highways in three municipalities, Manitowish Waters, St. Germain, and Winchester, and rejected opening in one, Arbor Vitae.

Most of the discussion centered on the Town of Manitowish Waters which had business owners such as Barry Hopkins telling the committee they would benefit along with increased county/state sales tax and local room taxes.

Town chairman John Hanson indicated a survey indicated people were opposed with some indicating traffic congestion on Highway W with increased truck traffic going north to Michigan but

Hopkins felt traffic “congestion was not a problem.” Hanson felt the local ATV/UTV club “has to sell the pubic for allowing access.”

Committee member Chuck Hayes indicated he received 71 letters in opposition and 33 in support stating, “it boils down to majority rule and local control.” Local control over county truck highways

was questioned by committee member Art Kunde who felt decisions on use of county highways should be made by the county.

“Local control over county roads? Is that something we want?” Kunde asked. “All the county paid for those roads and access should be by the county board, not the town. The 21 county board members need to make the decision.”

Committee member Pat Weber indicated he “haven’t heard of any problems and we need to take it to the county board.” Weber asked if there were any recommendations from the county safety committee or law enforcement but received no response.

The committee voted 4-1 to forward the request to open county highways in Manitowish Waters to the Jan. county board for adoption. Hayes cast the no vote.

The request to open county roads in the Town of Winchester was opposed by supervisor John Grimmer who indicated “people have spoken loudly against” allowing ATV/UTV’s on county highways but a person indicated residents use them to access boat landings. The committee approved 3-2 to approve all county trunk highways in Winchester.

Also approved were county highways in St. Germain with support of the town board. The only county road not approved was Highway N in Arbor Vitae on a vote of 4-1 against. There was no indication the UW Limnology Lab on Highway N was contacted for their position.

Vilas County corporation counsel indicated the highway committee votes for and against was not binding and “each has to go to the full county board” when they meet January 25.