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County board continues discussion on B2B route

This group of vehicles followed the proposed B2B route through Cook County. Photo by Scott Benolken
This group of vehicles followed the proposed B2B route through Cook County. Photo by Scott Benolken

Cook County resident Arvis Thompson does not think invasive species rely on motorized vehicles for transportation.  

If an invasive plant, insect or creature that lives in the water did arrive in the area, there are any number of ways it could show up, Thompson explained during a meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, June 26.  Dogs, birds, bicycles and even the wind can spread invasive species. The point being, Thompson explained, focusing on motorized vehicles as a primary culprit for spreading invasive species is simply not fair. 

While speaking during the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting, Thompson spoke in favor of a proposed ‘Border to Border Touring Route’ through Cook County. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and the Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association, describes the route as a backcountry adventure tour for road legal off-highway vehicles over existing gravel or paved Forest Service, DNR or county-managed roads. The route, when finalized, will be signed and mapped.

During a public meeting that drew a large crowd to the courthouse June 19, there were questions and comments both in support of, and voicing concern about the proposed route, particularly the section in Cook County. A number of the concerns expressed focused on the route’s potential impact on the local environment, including the spread of invasive species. Others, meanwhile, cited the overall culture of those who engage in motorized recreation as a reason it should not be on the Cook County branding label. 

During Tuesday’s meeting of the county board, Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk brought forward a resolution to support the proposed B2B touring route. Doo-Kirk said she drafted the resolution to support the B2B because Cook County is a good fit for such a concept.

Doo-Kirk said she feels this resolution will show that the county is involved with the process of planning the proposed B2B touring route.

As this was the first reading of the resolution during a county board meeting, the commissioners did not vote on the issue during Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution will likely appear as an agenda item during the next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county board, which is Tuesday, July 10.

Also appearing during Tuesday’s meeting of the county board was District 3A Rep. Rob Ecklund. He too spoke about the B2B.  Ecklund said the route might take time to become complete across Northern Minnesota, but that it will likely move forward. 

During the public meeting June 19 at the Cook County Courthouse, staff from the DNR said if the touring route becomes an official, designated route, it would likely take several years before it becomes a reality.