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DNR: ATVs are always in season

The Ely Echo of Ely, Minnesota

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Back to school sales and State Fair advertisements are the first signs of a waning summer, and with Labor Day just around the coiner, there's an uptick in all-terrain vehicle (ATV) recreation as adults and teens try to squeeze in a few more rides before the snow flies.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, ATVs are always in season regardless of sun or snow. And DNR conservation officers want to get the word out to both adults and youths to ride with caution and care.

"Six people, ranging from ages 6-to 53-years-old, have been killed in all-terrain vehicle accidents in Minnesota so far this year," said acting Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR Enforcement education program coordinator. "That compares to 13 total fatalities in 2014."

A DNR survey found that 72 percent of respondents said they ride ATVs on private land and trails, 15 percent ride on public road ditches and 15 percent ride on public land and trails.

Knowing where and when can ride ATVs is important. It is illegal to operate on the inside slope, shoulder and roadway of state and county roads. Class 2 ATVs (1,200-1,800 pounds) may be operated on the shoulder or extreme right side of county or township roads and city streets if not prohibited by the road authority or other local laws. Class 2 ATVs may not be operated on the shoulder of a state trunk highway.

Understanding the rules and regulations governing ATV use can also prevent a court appearance and fine. Depending on the county, a citation for illegal ATV use can cost the rider $90 to $130, Paurus said. He urged ATV users to contact the DNR or their local law enforcement agency to learn the rules in their areas. Paurus also recommends completing the ATV safety training course.

Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who operates an ATV on public lands and waters in Minnesota, must successfully complete the ATV safety training online course. Those under age 16 must complete the ATV online course and riding component before operating ATVs on public lands.

"Recreational ATV use can be enjoyable, but sometimes people don't understand the rules and regulations that govern their use," Paurus said. "Although they are usually a small percentage of users, these are the riders who can cast all ATV users in a bad light."

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Original Publication Date: August 29, 2015

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