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Panel approves ATV routes

After a review of practices in other counties regarding all-terrain vehicles, Douglas County’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee decided against moving ahead with a moratorium.

Proposed in November by committee chairman, Nick Baker, with the intent of using the time to weigh opening all county highways to ATV traffic. He said after reviewing the information from other counties it was his recommendation the county continue considering specific stretches where ATVs will be allowed on an individual basis.

"Most of the counties haven’t opened up all of the roads," Baker said. "They haven’t done it so my feeling is to keep on doing it the way we’re doing it."

With that, the panel turned its attention to three stretches of county highways that were up for consideration in November.

The panel approved all three, with one adjustment.

While a 2.5 mile stretch of County Highway E from Sam Anderson Road to County Highway K was originally recommended, that stretch was shortened to about 1.2 miles.

Baker said he was concerned about the length of the proposed access because County Highway E is a busy road.

"One of the things we would like to do is cut it in half," said Supervisor Dan Corbin. The change allows access from Sam Anderson Road to the Checkerboard Bar, which will allow ATV riders to access town roads that are open available for ATV use.

"I think that’s a very good move," Baker said.

"The group in favor of this has no problem whatsoever with shortening it," said Eric Schafer of Parkland. "But the intent of going to K was … to provide trail access to everyone on K."

Schafer said local residents, not tourists or the Checkerboard, were the driving force behind seeking access for ATV use. He said people don’t have a problem with shortening the route; it will mean local access for fewer people.

"It’s a start in the right direction," Schafer said.

The committee approved the shorter stretch on County Highway E.

The panel also approved a one-eighth mile stretch on County Highway P between Middle River and Gravel Pit roads, and a two-mile stretch on County Highway S between East Hazel Prairie and South Sandmon roads, which will provide a more direct link between the northern and southern parts in the town of Highland. The alternative was a 25-mile route. The Highland Town Board made the request.

The extensions have to be approved by the County Board and posted before they are legal to use.