To the Editor:
Are ATVs in your future?
They certainly will be if the forest and land ordinance is amended by the Vilas County board of supervisors. The amendment proposed by the legislative and judicial committee allows ATVs on county lands and roads. It also nullifies a 2004 resolution by the board keeping ATVs off of county roads and lands. The resolution resulted from a county-wide referendum in 2003 wherein 63 percent of Vilas
voters opposed ATV use on county lands.
The proposed amendment will hurt the people of Vilas County. Tourist income is now on the rise, primarily due to the promotion of silent sports. Biking is especially successful in bringing more visitors to the county. Vilas towns are making rapid progress in developing trails for biking and other uses. The Great Wisconsin Headwaters Trail will link Eagle River to Conover, Phelps and Land O’Lakes. The trail connecting Manitowish Waters and Boulder Junction will be dedicated July 26th. However, when ATVs are in a community, people who ride bikes avoid the area. Bikes and ATVs are not compatible. This is a grave concern for a county that just saw an increase of 10 pwercent in tourist revenue from 2011 to 2012. ATV riders will never make up for the loss of bicycle riders as so many more people in Wisconsin ride bikes (more than 2 million aged 16-plus) than ATVs.
The proposed amendment will increase safety issues on roads. While trails take cyclists off roads, ATV access to roads brings them onto the highways. Many Vilas County roads are narrow and have lots of curves. ATVs using roads are a hazard.
What action should you take? Tell the county supervisors that ATVs are not good for Vilas County and that the proposed amendment should be voted down once and for all. The current sneak-them-in approach is not what Vilas residents deserve.