Snowmobile/ATV Clubs Are Happy With Recreation OfficerIssue Date: April 25, 2019
Once each year the Marinette County Infrastructure committee (formerly the Forestry and Parks Committee) meets with members of Snowmobile and ATV organizations to discuss issues of mutual concern. This year's meeting, held at Wausaukee Village Hall on Monday, April 22, drew 15 representatives from seven different clubs representing all areas of the county.
They had high praise for work being done by new Sheriff's Department Recreation Officer Zak Albrecht. "I'd like to thank whoever was responsible for getting a person like Zak," declared Dun-Good Riders President Pat Mullarky. "He's really been a big help, and a presence on the trail, which is important!"
Patti Mullarky reiterated that Albrecht has been a positive presence on the trail system. She said snowmobiles riding off trail were an issue with all the snow this winter. She advised clubs to continue informing riders that they must stay on trails, because if they violate the agreements landowners may close sections of trail. She added that once the landowner trust is gone it's very hard to get back, and loss of one segment can mean having to move an entire trail.
Pete Villas, head of the Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Department, agreed heartily. He expressed hope that this officer is so well worth the dollars spent that they will get another one down the line. Vilas noted Oconto has two or three recreation officers and far fewer miles of trail and far, far fewer acres of County Forest.
Committee Chair Al Mans said the DNR will fund about half the cost of the position, "so now would be a good time to pursue it."
In addition to enforcing the laws on Marinette County's hundreds of miles of popular snowmobile and ATV trails Albrecht occasionally patrols the County Forest, which helps minimize law breaking there.
Several members of the Snowmobile Alliance expressed surprise that no officers were at the meeting, from either the DNR or the Sheriff's Office. They were told that Albrecht is currently off on paternity leave.
Present for the meeting in addition to Vilas and Mans were committee members David Zahn, Gilbert Engel, Shirley Kaufman and Al Sauld. Bill Stankevich was absent and excused.
Snowmobile/ATV representatives were Chuck Panske, Mike Panske and Dennis Liebeber for River Road Riders; Patti Mullarky, who is with Dun-good Riders and serves as Alliance secretary, Pat Mullarky, Debbi Dashnier and Pat Dashnier of Dun-Good Riders; Kelly Barnes of Near North Trail Riders; Gene Thomas of Kumalong Riders; Andy Malecki and Hilbert "Slug" Radtke of Bear Point Sno-Cruisers; Alan Walesh of Iron Snow Shoe; Bob Mueller, Vicky Mueller,and Jeff Schwaller of Ranger City Riders. Schwaller is also an AWSC County Director.
Villas discussed the projects that were submitted to the department which included annual maintenance of the trail system along with new mileage requests. He said the new mileage requests have been submitted in previous years but continue to be denied due to lack of funding at this time. Iron Snow Shoe submitted a grant request to place a bridge over the Thunder River for construction of a new trail, but this could be a problem because bridge construction projects must be on funded trails in order to receive grant funding. Vilas said he will continue to work on getting trail and bridge funding. He discussed the projects that were submitted to the department which included annual maintenance of the trail system along with new mileage requests.
Snowmobiling is closed for the year, and ATV trails are closed due to wet conditions. They are scheduled to open on May 1, weather permitting. He said clubs can do maintenance while the trails are closed for the spring thaw.
Sauld and Engel noted the City of Niagara is in the final stages of approving ATV/UTV use within the city limits, and access to and from the city will be needed. Mans commented once that happens, the city will learn just how much that will help local businesses.
Club members present were happy that Marinette County Board rejected a recommendation to end the Tourism Alliance, and expressed great concern about the lack of ATV and snowmobile promotion in the new
tourism guide for Marinette County. The guide was prepared under the direction of City of Marinette Tourism Director Melissa Ebsch. Marinette County contracts with the city for half her time to promote Marinette County as a whole.
Alliance members declared Marinette County, especially northern Marinette County, is a state and national destination for ATV and Snowmobile enthusiasts, and were upset that they had been ignored. They may be bringing their concerns to County Board or the Development Committee, which is in charge of tourist promotion.
They were glad to learn that the section of County X over the bridge that gives access to Parkway Road and trails to the west has been approved for ATV use.
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