Funding exists for ATV trail projects

The quest for all-terrain vehicle trails in Seneca County might get past the wouldn’t-it-be-nice stage.

During a meeting of county commissioners Tuesday, Board President Holly Stacy noted a grant to fund ATV trail development might be available from the Erie Basin Resource Conservation and Development Council, which encompasses Seneca County.

There’s another source which has existed for years, comprised of money paid by snowmobilers plus ATV and dirt-bike riders: the state recreational vehicle fund.

The $34.75 vehicle registration fee paid by these off-roaders every three years provides nearly $30 to the fund, providing money for Ohio Department of Natural Resources to buy land and expand trails.

Last November, ODNR bought about 24 acres adjacent to Pike State Forest to add to the 861-acre ATV area there. Apparently, that would be the first trail expansion since Maumee State Forest’s ATV area grew to seven miles.

Pike now has 10 miles of trails, and Richland Furnace offers nine more. Wayne National Forest manages a system of 129 miles in southeastern Ohio.

Even with that, Ohio comes up short compared to the more than 1,000 miles of ATV/dirt bike/snowmobile trails in Michigan and nearly 2,000 of off-road trails in West Virginia.

While funding is available for trail development, land might not be. That has supporters of ATV trails eying abandoned rail beds.

Former rail corridors have been used to create bicycle paths in Ohio, including the North Coast Inland Trail in Sandusky County. So it can be done.

If enough dedicated, persuasive individuals inside and outside of government work together, we might see a nice idea become a reality.