Motor Access Plan Approved for the Sturgeon River State Forest of Minnesota

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Motor Access Plan Approved for the Sturgeon River State Forest of MinnesotaMinnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Mark Holsten has approved final forest classification and motor vehicle route designation plans for the Sturgeon River State Forest. The plan is in response to a legislative directive to re-examine vehicle use in all 58 state forests. To improve consistency across public forest ownerships, the DNR worked with U.S. Forest Service and St. Louis County representatives in developing the plan.

“The purpose of the plan is to protect resources and to provide places for both OHV riding and non-motorized use,” said Scott Kelling, DNR Trails and Waterways manager, Tower.

FOREST CLASSIFICATION CHANGES

Effective Dec. 31, 2009, the part of the Sturgeon River State Forest within the Superior National Forest (about 40 percent) will be classified as limited. Limited means roads and trails are closed unless posted (signed) open to off-highway vehicle (OHV) use.

The remainder will be classified as managed, except for the Sand Creek tributaries area. Managed means roads and trails are open to motorized use unless posted (signed) closed.

The 9,033-acre Sand Creek tributaries area contains the headwater tributaries of Sand Creek, a DNR-designated trout stream, and a number of popular hunting trails. State and county-managed lands in the area will be closed to motor vehicle use. This effort will also lead to expanded and improved walking trails in the area.

FOREST ROAD AND TRAIL DESIGINATIONS

Nearly 30 miles of state forest roads will be newly designated under the plan, as will 26 miles of hunter walking trails, and nearly 13 miles of OHV trails. No changes are planned to area snowmobile trails.

About 40 miles of inventoried routes will be closed year-round to vehicular traffic, and another 16 miles of routes will remain non-designated. Non-designated trails are closed to motor vehicle use, except for licensed hunters and trappers who use vehicles seasonally for those activities.

This plan does not include designation of 4.7 miles of the Taconite State Trail for OHV use (part of the original proposal). That proposal will likely be part of an amendment of the existing Master Plan for the Taconite State Trail, which will include further resource and public review.

The plan does not include any trail connections to the Pine Tree Road near Perch Lake. Local residents expressed concerns about enforcement in that area and the DNR responded by closing those routes.

PLAN AND MAPS AVAILABLE

The final forest classification and route designation plan and maps are available at www.mndnr.gov or at www.findthetrails.com. For more information, contact Brian McCann,

DNR Trails & Waterways, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4052, 651-259-5627 or

888-MINNDNR (646-6367).