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Rice Lake looks to expand ATV/UTV access

Rice Lake officials are considering opening more streets to ATV/UTV traffic.

At its June 23 meeting the City Council voted to create a plan designating what streets will be open to ATVs.

Currently, ATVs are allowed on only some sections of Pioneer Avenue, South Street, Macauley Avenue, North Street and Lakeshore Drive.

As ATV/UTV trail riding increase in popularity, more local communities have expanded street access to riders in recent years.

Pete Schneider, president of the Rice Lake Snow & Dirt Club, said the club would like to see the City adopt state guideline on ATV routes, with a level of access similar to other local communities.

More than a dozen people spoke during public comment, encouraging more access to streets.

Many said it was burdensome to have to trailer their ATVs a short distance just to access the Wild Rivers Trail. Many also argued that more access would boost tourism to hotels, restaurants, bars and other businessses.

"Rice Lake serves as more of a complement of convenience, rather than a destination," said Rice Lake resident Shawn McKeever.

He said that Rice Lake is missing out on economic impact, being "a cornerstone of several great trail systems."

Bob Moullette and Nicky Repka, respresenting Rice Lake Tourism Commission, said the commission favored expanding ATV access in Rice Lake.

Repka said that because so many events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, Rice Lake Tourism is marketing more local recreational opportunities, including ATV/UTV trail riding.

Chip Lewis, owner of Airtec Sports, said the presence of four ATV/UTV dealerships in Rice Lake was representative of their popularity.

"It's kind of a big thing here. You can travel all over Wisconsin from this point," said Lewis.

The issue was brought to the Council in by Alderman Todd Larson and Doug Edwardsen, both of whom said they are not ATVers but support expanded routes.

"I'd like people to have access without having to trailer half a block or having to confess driving down an alley," said Larson.

Alderman Harlan Dodge questioned if a city of Rice Lake's size should be compared to nearby smaller communities when it comes to ATV routes.

"I think we need to watch what roads we open, and how (ATVs) cross Main Street," said Dodge. "We want to have what's safest for ATV users and auto users."

Originally Story at the link below.  

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