Evaluation of ATV Use On Groomed Snowmobile Trails

The growth in ATV numbers has driven a desire for more places to operate them recreationally on trails. In some areas of the Snowbelt this has led to a growing interest for ATV operation on groomed snowmobile trails during the winter season. This can be a challenge for land and trail managers.

The objective of this project was to collect information to help local decision makers: 1) identify potential impacts to the groomed and compacted snow surface from ATV use in varying conditions during the winter season and provide Best Management Practices (BMPs) to help minimize or mitigate potential conditions that could affect trail user safety and the quality of groomed snow trails, 2) identify potential safety issues that may result from mixing snowmobile and ATV vehicle traffic on the same groomed trail during the winter season and provide BMPs to help minimize or mitigate any potential effects, and 3) identify potential off-season impacts to snowmobile trail routes from unauthorized ATV use and provide BMPs to help minimize and mitigate any potential effects. The project’s scope was limited to evaluation of use during the winter season when trails are compacted and did not include funding to evaluate potential shoulder season ATV management issues.

The decision as to how to use this information and whether to allow concurrent ATV and snowmobile use on trails groomed for snowmobiles must be made at the local level by landowners, trail providers, and political jurisdictions. The intent of publishing this document is not to either encourage or discourage concurrent use but rather to provide entities with information to help them with their local decisions. All decisions regarding ATV use on groomed snowmobile trails are reserved for implementation by local jurisdictions and local trail grooming managers consistent with local priorities and resources.

The sole purpose of this publication is educational only, with no other intent but to help expand trail managers’ and local decision makers’ knowledge base.

Attached document published December 2006

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