Lyon County Board to decide on ATV park aid application

MARSHALL — A proposal for an all-terrain vehicle park near Russell will be coming back before the Lyon County Board this week. If commissioners approve, county staff could apply for a grant-in-aid cost sharing program, which would allow Lyon County to be the sponsor for the trail system.

Earlier this year, rural Russell resident Gary Thooft proposed opening ATV trails he has built for public use. With partnership from Lyon County and the Southwest ATV Club, the trail system could be eligible for a cost-sharing program run by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The ATV park proposal had a 30-day comment period and a public hearing in July. At the hearing, a total of 19 written comments were read, including nine comments supporting the ATV trails, and 10 comments against them. Some of the criticisms the proposal received included concerns about noise, and the possibility of ATV riders trespassing on neighboring private land.

County commissioners had their own questions about the proposal, including what potential liability issues for Lyon County would be if it became a sponsor for the trails.

In materials prepared for the Lyon County Board’s Dec. 7 meeting, county staff said the Lyon County Environmental Department responded to public comments on the trail proposal by mail in September. They also said Thooft has responded to the comments by re-routing or closing some trail segments.

A grant-in-aid application for the project is included on the agenda for the Dec. 7 Lyon County Board meeting. If county commissioners approve the application, it would go to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for review. The review process would likely take several months, county staff said.