FOG Letters and Quotes

Letters, Emails, Comments and Quotes from people for support of Silent Sports trails

From Mark Elliot, Executive Director of Northwest Passage, LTD.

To Whom It May Concern,

We at Northwest Passage have been following the discussions around the summertime Gandy Dancer use and hopefully can offer some reasons why we believe it would be better left non-motorized.  We were hoping that the protection from motorized vehicles during the summer months would stand as it has in Burnett County but after listening to the debate it appears that there is serious consideration of opening up the trails.  Our support for keeping the trail non-motorized during the summer months is based not only on our specific needs but also from an overall community development standpoint.  For years the kids and staff in our program have utilized the trail regularly for biking and hiking during the summer months and have appreciated the access.  It is hard to measure the positive impact it has had on our kids but we know that time in nature is a great source for healing.  Having a trail that is free from the worry of vehicles is what makes this trail so valuable to our experiences.   Not only do we have several hundred kids annually that get a chance to experience the wonderful Gandy Dancer trail system that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, we also have 180 employees that have that opportunity as well.   When recruiting professionals for our program we talk about the benefits of living in our area and always mention the wonderful resources –  lakes, rivers, snowmobile/ATV trails and biking trails (the Gandy).  Having a diverse amount of resources for all kinds of activities is not only good for the people in the area but also for the people visiting our area.  We have parents that visit our programs and will often use the Gandy as a place to walk with their kids because of the close proximity.  The noise, trail degradation and the safety concerns compromise the opportunity for members of the community and our kids to use the trail as it was intended.  We hope that you will support maintaining the Gandy as a non-motorized summer trail.

Mark Elliott
Executive Director

Northwest Passage, Ltd.
o: 715.327.4402 c: 715.491.6690

What Recreation Professionals Say About Integrating Hiking & ATVs On Same Trail

DNR Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

Recent reviews of research in the field of recreation conflict revealed that management which aims to avoid recreation conflict is ineffective.”

Rather than such ineffective attempts, SCORP suggests the following management strategy for highly competitive and antagonistic compatibility”

“The most appropriate management action for these activities will generally be segregating uses . . .”

The 2005-10 DNR SCORP) notes that the compatibility between ATV Riding and Hiking is rated as antagonistic at 2.4 on a scale of 0 to 10.

Tim Miller, retired Supervisor WDNR Northern Region Parks and Recreation,

In my opinion and from my experience, if motorized recreation traffic is permitted on the trail then that usually becomes the ‘primary’ use . . . I believe the motorized use becomes the primary use because those users can travel farther and faster and want to. Also, I believe many of the non-
motorized users usually don’t want to encounter motorized traffic. This will tend to separate the users…” 


In July 2004, Mr. Miller told ATV riders they could ride on the Tuscobia Segment of the Ice Age Trail from Balsam Lake Road to the  Barron/Washburn County Line.  Just four months later he made the above statement.

Peter Biermeier, retired WDNR Section Chief for Trails, Planning and External Relations

“…I have seen an email…by Tim Miller. Essentially I agree with Tim’s comments that a motorized use on a trail becomes in most cases the primary use…and sometimes the only use. We have no studies to back this up, but our experience shows this to be true.”  (ibid) 

Multiple Use Trails April 10, 2004. Brigit Brown, former WDNR State Parks and Recreation Specialist Disseminated by Laurie Osterndorf, Administrator, WDNR Division of Land.)
Multiple use often requires trails to be widened to accommodate the variety of uses and higher levels of traffic. Wider trails do not provide a high quality level of experience for many users, and use will often drop for hikers, bikers, bird watchers and walkers when trail systems are widened.”

Tom Gilbert, retired Superintendent, Ice Age National Scenic Trail wrote in a white paper entitled “Protecting the Essence of Hiking.”

The pleasurable nature of a hiking experience can be disrupted or destroyed by unwelcome sights, unwelcome sounds, and a trail that is difficult to walk . . . How many hikers like the sound of ATV engines or having to leap out of the way of a speeding, flashy-colored (or mud-caked) vehicle as they seek to enjoy the quiet and natural beauty of a walk in the woods.”

March 25, 2016 email from Mike Wollmer, Executive Director, Ice Age Trail Alliance to Benjamin Bergey

“…ATV’s and hikers/walkers/pedestrians don’t fit together.  The addition of ATV’s, by their nature, during any season displaces all of the other user groups.  There are indeed a few choke points where, with proper and constant enforcement, everyone has to get along.  I believe that’s possible for a couple hundred feet at 5mph.  Past that and in the case of the Gandy Dancer, pedestrians lose.”

What IAT Users Say About  Integrating Hiking & ATVs On Same Trail

Chet Anderson has hiked the IAT, AT and PCT.  In 2009 when thru-hiking the IAT he avoided the Tuscobia Segment of the IAT in Washburn County by walking along Highway 48.  He explains his choice as follows:

In 2009 I through-hiked the Ice Age Trail. When I was hiking the section near Birchwood along Hwy. 48, I was more comfortable hiking Hwy 48 than the trail. The road traffic seems quieter, safer and has less exhaust odor. Thankfully I seldom have to hike near ATVs because too often I see young people driving and I am afraid that they are not totally in control if any thing out of the ordinary happens. I feel that anytime ATVs and hikers can be separated, it’s a better experience for both parties.”

Unidentified Hiker was walking on the ATV trail shortly after completion of the 2015 Realignment Project.  Don Erickson pointed out the area that should be used for hiking at the Red Cedar Narrows.  The hiker replied as follows:

“That doesn’t look like a very good place to walk.”

Jan Erickson checked out the east approach and bridge shortly after completion of the 2015 Realignment Project.  Here is what she said:

You have to be out of your mind to walk there.”

Don Erickson has this to say about hiking amongst ATVs/UTVs:

“With my own eyes I have seen how ATVs displaced hikers on the Tuscobia.  I no longer see hikers sitting on the bridge curb to catch a cool breeze and take in a grand view. Mike Wollmer states the “crowd out” effect well. However, the 5 mph limit we were expecting never happened.   Constant enforcement is also not practical.  Before a DNR reduction in force (RIF) Kathy Pospychalla devoted much time enforcing the Narrows, and I was told she was chided for issuing too many tickets.”

“It seems to me that accepting motorized and non-motorized use on the same trail is akin to saying there’s nothing wrong with having a drinking water line where only one piece of pipe contains lead or arsenic.”

“The initial 2005 draft Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) between the Wisconsin ATV Association and Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation (IAPTF) provided area where the two organizations agreed to share facilities including parking lots and short stretches of trail.  I objected to “short stretches” because ATVs were running at the approaches of the Narrows.  WATVA immediately accepted my revision and indicated that it might be best to also have separate parking lots.  Both parking lots and short stretches of trail were not in the signed agreement.”