OHV Riding on the Iron Range - Show 2

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Podcasts
OHV Riding on the Iron Range - Show 2 .mp3 (1.44 Mb) 10/12/07

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Steve Carroll:

Greetings, and welcome to the DNR's podcast on off-highway vehicles, and in particular the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in Gilbert, MN.I'm DNR Information Officer Steve Carroll, and I'm joined today by Recreation Area Manager Bob Chance. Hi, Bob.

Bob Chance:

Hi, Steve.

SC:

Well, this Gilbert off-highway vehicle recreation area is located in northern Minnesota. Give our listeners an idea of where exactly this recreation area is located.

BC:

Well, northeastern MN about 60 miles north of Duluth you'll find the Iron Range and the Virginia Hibbing area. If you take Interstate 35 north to the Cloquet cutoff, Hwy 33 through Cloquet to Hwy 53 north to the Iron Range, we're located just off of the Gilbert Exit.

SC:

And it's a cool, cool site.

BC:

It's a lot of fun for the people that want to take part in motorized recreation. We're providing all kinds of things for the gamut of people that want to ride there.

SC:

And the site itself actually used to be used for something else.

BC:

It's an old mining area. During the red ore mining days, they would take overburden off the earth and then there would be lot of ore that was unusable and they piled it up into what we call stockpiles and that is what the recreation area is made of.

SC:

And how long has the recreation area been open?

BC:

The area has been open since September 2002 for five years now.

SC:

Wow, time flies.

BC:

It does.

SC:

Who was the recreation area designed for?

BC:

It was designed for motorized recreation, off-highway vehicles, all terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and off-road vehicles, which are 4x4 trucks and Jeeps.

SC:

So, is it for the experienced rider, or the novice rider, or who might use this recreation area?

BC:

Well, we have a little bit for everybody from novice to the experienced and almost to the extreme for some of the users.

SC:

You've got to have the extreme don't you?

BC:

Definitely. They're looking for that challenge.

SC:

Talk about the regulations. I know that's a big part of the experience up there.

BC:

It is and what you'll find when you get to the Gilbert site is that the regulations we use are the same regulations that are used throughout the state. The difference is that we make sure that the people coming in, the visitor, is going to conform to the regulations before they enter. So we're watching make sure everybody's conforming, no one's breaking the law and then they can enter the site. The biggest confusion that we're finding are the safety certificates. And we're finding that people do not understand that anyone born after July 1, 1987 must have a safety certificate to ride on an ATV. That includes 16, 17, 18, and now this year some 19 year olds. That will increase and that is something that is permanent. Of course, we've got the 12-15 year olds that have to have both the in-house training and they have to have the CD training to ride in the recreation area and the same thing with motorcycles. And at this time we don't have any required training for the trucks.

SC:

So, is it possible to get certification upon arrival or does it have to be done in advance?

BC:

We can help to a certain extent. For the 12 to 15 year olds they have to have everything done in advance for ATVs. For the people born after July 1, 1987 we can help. We have a laptop computer, we have the CDs, and we've been given permission to actually correct the test and allow them to enter. Same thing with motorcycles. We can do the same thing onsite we have the CDs, we have a laptop they can use. But they must understand, once they get there, it's going to take 2 to 3 hours to get through this testing before they can enter the site.

SC:

I see, OK. And the recreation area is located in northeastern Minnesota. Do you have any sort of idea on where the riders come from?

BC:

Most of our riders, to this point, the majority of them are coming from the Twin Cities metro area. If we take a look at the overall, almost everybody coming to visit the site is coming from the five-state area.

SC:

Oh, OK. And you want to talk about vehicle sound emission testing. What's that all about?

BC:

Well, it's another one that's kind of confusing and it is something that is required again state wide, it's just not at the Gilbert site. And essentially what it is, is it's an emission sound test. And for trucks and ATVs they must keep the sound coming out of their emission to less than 99 decibels at half way to red line for that engine. For motorcycles at this time it's 96 decibels. They've got to keep it below that before they can enter.
So we test each one before they come in and for the most part we're finding everyone does just fine. We find a very small minority have gone out and put on what we refer to as aftermarket exhaust, and if it's an aftermarket exhaust it's usually going to be a problem. With trucks open headers are usually a problem. It's just way too loud to meet the regulation.

SC:

Interesting. And you also offer some sort of vehicle wash?

BC:

Yes, it was something that we took a look at during the planning stages. We knew that there was going to be dust, dirt, and some mud that was going to be on the vehicles so we provided a vehicle wash. It's not a power wash, it's just a normal type of hose with a nozzle on the end that you can at least rinse off most of the stuff that is clinging to the vehicle as you come out. Not everybody has stuff clinging to the vehicle but that option is there.

SC:

Are there plans for future trail development up there?

BC:

Yes, we've actually -- people think it's going to be a separate site -- but it's actually all part of the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area and what we're talking about today is known as the Gilbert site. We also are planning and getting into the final stages of what's referred to as the Virginia site, which is approximately a mile away as the crow flies. And it's part of the same recreation area, it's just it's going to be another development and it's going to just about triple the size of area that we have for the recreation area.

SC:

And when is that supposed to be open?

BC:

Well, we're hoping that we finish the planning - final planning stages this winter, development next summer. And of course development will take years, but at least development to get it open to the visitors and the public by 2009.

SC:

I see. Well, one of the neat things about the recreation area is the names of the trails. They're not like the "Black Trail" or the "Red Trail." They have kind of some history behind them. And let's talk about some of the trail names and some of the stories behind the naming of those trails.

BC:

Sure. They happened as they were being developed and the one that I happened to be there when that trail was being developed and watching some of the workers do the work that needed to be done to get it open, and this one is Ted's Revenge. And it was kind of unusual in that I was standing there on a mound of dirt and I was kind of kicking at some rocks and all of a sudden I saw the tip of an old mining helmet and I thought, "well, it must be just the visor that's stuck here. It must have been a broken helmet." And as I started kicking some more the helmet started to be exposed and all of a sudden I could see it was a whole helmet, and when I uncovered it, it had the name Ted on it. And one of the volunteers that has helped us develop trails kind of took a look at it and he goes, "I think Ted would take some revenge on this. Let's call this Ted's Revenge." So, the helmet is still there at the entrance to the trail. It's called Ted's Revenge with Ted's helmet.

SC:

Oh, interesting. What are some of the other trail names?

BC:

Well, we have another one called Money Talks. Again, the history, I wasn't there during the beginning of it, but been told the story from the people that were there when the trail was being developed and there was a young man who was a little overconfident with his vehicle and decided he was going to go in on this trail and didn't think he needed the things that everyone was calling for to take this trail with his off-highway truck and of course was stuck halfway into the trail, came walking out to get help, and the story goes, looked up at the guy that had been trying to advise him and said, "I guess money talks, and BS walks."

SC:

Well, very interesting. It sounds like a neat place. And we're just about out of time for today so Bob, if you could, tell our listeners where they can find more information about the OHV Recreation Area in Gilbert.

BC:

Well, they can visit the Department of Natural Resources website and go to "Off-Highway Vehicle Trails" or they can go to the award-winning site findthetrails.com and that's trails with an "s." And it will bring you to the site for the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area near Gilbert.

SC:

OK, very good. Well, I want to thank you all for listening to today's podcast about the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in Gilbert, MN.Our guest has been Bob Chance, he's the Recreation Area Manager, and I'm Steve Carroll for the Minnesota DNR.