A group called the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has written a letter to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr asking that the agency increase the number of Hunter Walking Trails. The DNR maintains Hunter Walking Trails in the forested region of the state. The non-motorized trails are used mostly by grouse hunter
The group said the letter was signed by 200 people.
Here’s a copy of the letter:
“We write as avid hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts on behalf of the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), a group formed with the goal of protecting our public lands, waters, and wildlife from threats like the ever-increasing specter of motorized overuse and abuse. We seek to maintain high-quality habitat and hunting experiences, as well as a strong code of fair chase ethics. BHA members share the values of solitude, tradition, challenge, freedom, health, and family, and want to ensure that our public lands are preserved for future generations of hunters and others.
“We strongly commend the DNR’s Hunter Walking Trails (HWT) program and would like to see it expanded. Enclosed are signatures from 200 Minnesota hunters who feel the same way, collected at the Minnesota Deer Classic. We had many conversations with hunters and others angered that their hunts are, with increasing frequency, being wrecked by ATV thrill-riders, and we heard too many stories about increasing habitat and trail degradation. Many of our signers were ATV owners. They like to use their ATVs in a legal and limited fashion and are angry at scofflaws. Some didn’t use their ATVs in the course of hunting at all.
“As you know, state forests are heavily tilted toward ATV use. Because only a small percentage of state forests are closed to ATVs, we feel strongly that the percentage should be increased. Many of us use HWT areas regularly and have high quality hunting experiences there, and we can say from boots-on-the-ground experience and observation that they are popular. Minnesota hunters need more such places.
“We are not asking that Minnesota’s public lands exclude ATV use. There is a place on some public lands for responsible and legal ATV use. However, we seek a more balanced distribution of outdoor opportunity, one that reflects both the desires of Minnesota’s hunters and other outdoor users, one that recognizes the sound scientific evidence clearly documenting that the increasing lattice of motorized trails leads to fish and game habitat degradation and the loss of hunting opportunity for everyone.
“Thank you for your efforts to protect wildlands and wildlife for future generations of hunters and anglers and other outdoorsmen and women.”