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New Bridge Trail Connects Iron Range Cities, Will Boost Ridership & Tourism
From the Iron Range Resources And Rehabilitation Newsletter
A new ATV trail connector opened last week that connects the cities of Virginia, Eveleth and Gilbert accessing the Tom Rukavina Memorial Bridge on Highway 53. The connector is 550 feet of trail and provides a crucial link to the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area in Gilbert.
"With this key trail connection and the completion of other area trail systems in the region, we hope to see a measurable increase in ATVs at area hotels, resorts and campgrounds," said Beth Pierce, Iron Range Tourism director.
In anticipation of opening a new expansion in 2020 that will double the existing OHV park's size, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) completed substantial work in the park this year. In 2018 more than 5,000 machines visited the park between May and October. Pierce believes this number could dramatically increase with the new trail connector along the bridge.
According to Pierce, trail development around the state has shown that the ATV market is recognized as enthusiastic trail explorers who are able and willing to spend money in communities. They are likely to be repeat visitors in areas where they enjoy established trail systems. Pierce said that the region's campgrounds and lodging properties can attest to increased ATV traffic in recent years with the statewide growth of the sport. There are an estimated 268,000 registered ATVs in Minnesota.
Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation provided a Regional Trails grant which helped pay for construction, signage and a culvert for the new connector. Other project partners included Minnesota DNR, the city of Virginia, Iron Range Tourism Bureau and Quad Cities ATV Club.
"Trails can have important economic impacts to a rural region," said Mark Phillips, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation commissioner. "They attract tourism spending and auxiliary startup businesses such as rental and repair shops. Trails can also be a business recruiting tool for health care and other large industries."
ATVAM Creates VR Program For Youth Education
In August of 2018, ATVAM Leadership was notified about a Minnesota DNR commissioned hazard evaluation study completed on the ATV/Snowmobile Simulator. This study recommended the safety lock-out and discontinued use of the Simulator until several identified safety risks were repaired. After reviewing the costs of repairs needed, and how the Simulator was being used, ATVAM Leadership decided to seek a new direction in delivering ATV safety information while instilling the fun of ATV recreational riding in youth education programs.
Perry May, ATVAM 1st Vice President, took the lead on finding Simulator alternatives, which included the research of simple mechanical movement, to automated mechanical movements with a programmed-logic control, to the use of Virtual Reality (VR). A proposal to seek funding for the creation of a VR Video was presented and accepted at the ATVAM Vision Conference in April of 2019.
A simple description of VR is, a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment using their sense of sight and sound displayed through a VR headset (goggles).
We are nearing completion of an ATV Virtual Reality Video being completed by a Mankato Company called Sunstone Creative Group. Recently, members from the Bluff Country ATV Club, a Minnesota DNR Regional Training Officer, Sunstone Creative, and a young, certified rider took part in filming various scenes on the Southeast Minnesota ATV Trail, to be used in the VR Video. These scenes will we edited into a short, 2-½ minute video that can be displayed through a VR Video Headset such as Oculus Go.
M&M Lawn & Leisure, Rushford, along with Polaris, loaned two Class I ATVs to help with the filming. The final video will display safety requirements needed to ride an ATV, interactive riding tips, and the fun of riding an ATV.
ATVAM will sell a copy of the VR Video for use by ATVAM Clubs, along with a pair of Oculus Go goggles, to use at safety training classes or community events. The person wearing the VR Video headset will sit on a Class I ATV that is not moving, and hold onto the handlebars just like they are riding. A first-draft release of the VR Video is expected by July 4, 2019.
OTHG Club Hosts WCCO/CBS TV, Goin' to the Lake - Emily, MN Edition
The You Tube video is a "Goin to the Lake" / Emily segment from WCCO /CBS TV newscast that aired on Thursday July 13th, 2017 on the WCCO/CBS TV 10pm newscast. The Over the Hills Gang ATV Club organized a 7-mile ATV ride for the WCCO crew that started at Granny's Bar and Grill and ended at Sweets & Such in Emily, MN where they were treated with ice cream. OTHG Club members brought ATV personal protective equipment, such as gloves, helmets,goggles, splash pants, and boots to ensure the safety of the WCCO crew, and conducted some safety training before the ride. Club Members brought ATV Class I machines for Meteorologist Chris Shaffer, News Anchor Liz Collin, to ride individually, and Class II ATV's to transport a cameraman, photographer, social media and promotions team member on the ride. Additional information and videos can be found on the WCCO /CBS Facebook page.
Shown in the picture to the right is WCCO/CBS Meteorologist Chris Shaffer and News Anchor Liz Collin along with OTHG ATV Club Members and MN DNR Volunteer Trail Ambassadors Dave Kodada, Daniel Olmshenck, Ben Allen, John Halverson, Lynn Remington, Bub Moser and Perry May.