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· The Boss
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DNR unveils possible ATV trails for state forest
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Posted: Feb. 26, 2008

Madison - State officials Tuesday unveiled possible all-terrain vehicle trails for Northern Highland American Legion State Forest.

The trails would be a first for ATVs in the largest state forest in north-central Wisconsin.

But the nearly 80 miles of routes, at an estimated cost of more than $12 million, may never be built.

Plans for the trails have been highly controversial. Proponents say ATV use is growing and more trails on public land are needed. Opponents said the vehicles will cause environmental damage and change the character of the forest.

When a new master plan for the forest was approved in fall 2005, the state Department of Natural Resources put off a decision about building ATV trails because of the controversy.

Since then, a stakeholder group has mulled possible routes. DNR officials outlined two possible trail systems at the monthly meeting of the Natural Resources Board, but held off on a recommendation.

One system would run 49 miles in Oneida and Vilas counties, cost $5.4 million and generally follow state forest roads and snowmobile trails.

The other would be in Iron County. There, DNR officials have options for 18- and 12-mile trails that would operate primarily along existing town roads and snowmobile trails and cost more than $7 million.

DNR officials said one or both routes could be built - or none at all.
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