DNR reminds ATV operators to steer clear of road ditches in the agricultural zone

(Released March 20, 2014)

With warm weather on the way, many all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders are anxious to hit the trails, but the Department of Natural Resources reminds riders to be aware of riding restrictions in some parts of the state due to wet conditions or closures.

Between April 1 and Aug. 1, Minnesota law prohibits ATVs from riding in ditches in the agricultural zone, that is, the area of the state south of a line that runs roughly from Moorhead to Taylors Falls along Highway 10 and Highway 95. The area roughly covers the southern half of the state.

“During these four months, ATV riders need to stay out of the road ditches completely in the agricultural zone,” Lt. Leland Owens, DNR recreational vehicle coordinator said. “In addition to the law prohibiting ATV use, those road ditches provide some of the only nesting habitat available in places.”

The ATV restriction does not apply to grant-in-aid trails or to ATVs registered and used exclusively for agricultural purposes.

Owens said that in addition to potentially disturbing wildlife, ATVs in wet road ditches can cause erosion problems and even, in some cases, damage the roadbed itself.

As they do each spring, the DNR will need to temporarily close some state forest roads and trails to ATV operators due to wet conditions.

All off-highway vehicle riders are encouraged to check on trail conditions and temporary closures before planning riding trips to prevent damage to forest roads and trails.

Trail condition information is available online or by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296 6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367. The DNR will also post signs at entry points and at parking lots in state forests.