Chippewa County ATV trail expansion to boost tourism dollars

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- The construction of additional miles on Chippewa County’s ATV trails is expected to help boost the area economy.

Earlier this week, Chippewa County's Land Conservation and Forest Management department said construction began on a 12-mile stretch on top of the 19-mile trail system already in place.

Owner of Xtreme Motorsports, LLC in Chippewa Falls Pete Lowater said the addition is creating excitement.

Lowater said, “We get a lot of people coming in who have heard about it and are real excited about it because it is in the woods instead of on the road so it is more enjoyable, more scenic.”

County Forest Administrator Mike Dahlby said since the original trail was developed beginning in 2005 there was a demand for a complete loop but it wasn't feasible at the time.

Now, because of proper funding and a commitment to maintain the 31-mile trail system by the Chippewa Valley ATV Council, this construction will finish that loop.

Dahlby explained, “We are attempting to use our public land base to provide a sustainable trail opportunity for them to get out in the woods and enjoy their ATVs and UTVs in terrain that they're really designed for.

The trail will be made of crushed rock and gravel and will connect riders to the Lake Holcombe area.

Construction on the estimated $480,000 project was funded in part by ATV user fees and a grant from the DNR. Dahlby said beginning construction this winter should be more cost effective and environmentally sustainable.

Dahlby explained, “We're less prone to runoff events, rain events, things that cause bare soil to erode. Even from the environmental side building the trail now makes a lot sense.”

There are more than 4,000 registered ATV's in Chippewa County alone and with the addition of more trail path the Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce said that could bring in more enthusiasts to boost the economy.

Director Jackie Boos said, “Overnight stay impacts can range between $300-500 depending on the group and the individual. That includes a lot of things. That's the hotel stay, that's gas, the attractions and going out for food, all that good stuff!”

Boos said the trail advancement will also provide riders will better access to the area.

“The trail way on which the system is created has a lot of opportunity for restaurants and attractions along the way so it entices the rider or the person to stay longer and enjoy what Chippewa County has to offer,” Boos added.

The county says the 3,500 acres of forest may seem large but it's actually the 9th smallest of the 29 county forests.

Dahlby said that means other users, like mountain and horseback riders, had to come together to figure out how to re-route and co-exist so everyone could happily utilize and maintain the trail system.

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