Members of the newly formed Quad Cities ATV Club are hoping to spread their message – and their trails – throughout the cities of Mountain Iron, Gilbert, Eveleth and Virginia.
“Our specific goal is to get the Quad Cities area very ATV friendly for local residents and tourists. We hope to make this area a known and loved destination for people near and far as has been done with the sport of snowmobiling, ” said club Vice-President Ryan Horan. “And we all know how that has helped the local economy during the winter months year after year. ”
The group is well on its way to doing just that.
Formed in November 2016, the club — in the final stages of receiving non-profit status — already has 40 individual members, 59 family memberships (about 200 people) and 35 business members.
They are also offering their first club ride on Saturday, April 8.
Organizers are hoping that that early enthusiasm will lead to the Quad Cities area becoming a major hub for ATV.
“We see no reason why you will not be able to go from south to north to east and west and back and do it legally on safe dedicated routes that are mapped, well marked and insured where needed, ” he said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but in the short time of this club forming we have already made huge headway in this direction. ”
Horan said the idea to form a club came after he and a few others attended a trails task force meeting and saw the obvious need in the area for an organized group.
An initial meeting date was set last fall at the Sawmill in Mountain Iron and through word of mouth and social media, there was an excellent turnout, Horan said, which included two St. Louis County Commissioners, Tom Rukavina and Keith Nelson.
A club board was voted in that night.
Horan said some of the immediate issues they are facing include the construction of the new Virginia bridge, which includes plans to have an ATV and snowmobile lane included and requires local clubs to stand up and accept responsibility for the connection points on either side of it.
Horan also said interest in ATV use is growing rapidly and there are other clubs across the Iron Range that are also dedicated to connectivity of the local cities.
“The Quad Cities are a major hub that needed to get organized to help with this task. This job is a huge undertaking and one single club can only efficiently handle so much area so an active dedicated club for the Quad Cities was needed, ” Horan said.
That connectively is key to everything and Horan said club members knew they needed to organize so they could sit down with local law enforcement, mayors, council members and city engineers to get the Quad Cities on board to pass new ATV friendly ordinances and ATV friendly routes – connecting trails with things like lodging, food and gas.
To that end, the club dedicated three members to meet with Virginia to accomplish that goal.
Also, the cities of Virginia, Eveleth and Mountain Iron have — or are in process of — filing resolution paperwork with St. Louis County to open up all county roads that pass thru each individual city to ATVs.
According to Horan, last year St. Louis County opened up all their roads to ATV and UTV travel and cities have the option of allowing or denying travel through their borders.
“We have successfully received permission from all these cities, ” Horan said. Gilbert already had an ATV travel plan in place for some time, he added.
Another important piece of the puzzle, Horan said, is an organized non-profit club is required to receive grants and funding for trail maintenance, repair, construction and other needed activities.
It is also a requirement in many situations that a section or entire trail needs to be covered by a sizable insurance policy and the club will be able to obtain and carry those policies for any areas or trails that they has under them, Horan added.
Thus far, since its formation, the Quad Cities Club has received a lot of positive support from individuals and businesses, local and state government officials, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and the Iron Range Tourism Bureau, Horan said.
“It was kind of a good feeling for our club (members) when officials from the city of Virginia asked for our input to help update their ATV ordinance as they are aware it needs some restructuring, ” Horan said.
And while the business side of the club is one aspect, there are also social benefits to such a group, Horan said.
Having a club will make it easier for like-minded ATV enthusiasts to get together and ride.
Because – let’s be honest – is the fun part.
The inaugural ride on April 8 will start at the Britt Lounge at 10 a. m. The group will be riding a route in the Britt area and will stop a couple times at local businesses along the way.
Horan said that area was chosen for the first ride because at this point there isn’t a legal route through the Quad Cities.
But that is sure to come, as it is a top priority for Horan and others in the group, who are looking for more people to join and get involved – which is another key reason for the April 8 ride.
Horan said all members, non-members or riders with interest in joining the club are welcome but that he would appreciate an e-mail if at all possible so organizers can have a general participation count idea for businesses they might stop at.
Still, last minute riders are welcome, he added.
To join the Quad Cities ATV Club or view different membership options, you can visit their web site, www.quadcitiesatv.com and click the download the membership form.
All members also become members of the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota, the leading ATV lobbying organization in St. Paul at the legislation level. The website also has ride details, updates, and a list of some board members and contact information. The club also has a page on Facebook and be reached by email at email@example.com or by U. S. Mail at PO box 83 Virginia, MN, 55792.