Itasca County A-OK with ATVs along most county roads

PHOTO: Aaron J. Brown

Starting July 15, Itasca County will allow all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to drive on the right-of-ways along county roads. The Grand Rapids Herald-Review reported the county board action in a June 28 story.

The ordinance comes after a long debate within county government. Some see danger allowing ATVs so close to active traffic. Others see merits.

You can read the ordinance here.

The legalization of ATVs on right-of-ways authorizes what has been longstanding practice by many ATV drivers in rural Itasca County. My neighborhood here in Balsam Township buzzes with ATV traffic throughout the summer months. While much of the traffic is confined to authorized trails, ATV drivers often access the trails on right-of-ways. A number of folks jet between the homes of friends and families on ATVs.

That essentially represented the successful argument for the new policy. ATVs are common, and big business for tourism. People need to get their vehicles from town to the trails and back.

The ordinance still conforms with state laws regarding ATV use and additional safety precautions for young drivers. You still can’t drive them on the roads. Backers hope ATV riders police themselves to avoid the ordinance being made more restrictive in the future.

Once the July 15 ATV ordinance takes effect, we can mark the lifting of prohibitions across the region this summer. Why, in Itasca County you could even drive your 4-wheeler to pick up a case of Michelob on a Sunday. Just be sure to stow that load and wear a helmet if you are under 18.

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