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ATV, dirt bike use is limited in area

They are fun to operate, but how many All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and dirt bike riders can claim what they are doing is legal?

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officer Greg Oldakowski has a considerable list of do's and don'ts to go by in enforcing state laws. The state government shutdown has not affected Oldakowski and if he sees a person on an ATV heading down a highway or a dirt bike tearing down a township road he is going to do some investigating.

To start with, youth need an ATV safety certificate. To be on a township road or even in a ditch they need a driver's license. The law changes subtly when that ATV operator pulls onto a county road. There a driver's license does not entitle him to ride on the road but he can ride in the ditch. The ATV also has to be licensed.

Oldakowski recommends that farmers who use dirt bikes to herd livestock have an ag sticker. The sticker allows them to drive down a county road or a highway.

Oldakowski does not know of any public trails for ATV and dirt bike use in the Wadena area but there are trails designated for their use in Huntersville State Forest, in northeastern Wadena County.

Many dirt bike operators are just out for some off-road fun so turn signals, lights and even license plates are not all that practical or desirable. License plates on dirt bikes do not tend to stay on very well in heavy use.

Wadena Police Chief Bruce Uselman and his officers will hustle ATV and dirt bikers off a public street.

"If we see them we will stop them and tell them they can't do that," Uselman said.

City police officers will only allow a dirt bike to operate on a public street if it is licensed.

Uselman said that ATVs can be used for snow removal or on a construction site in Wadena. They can also be used on private property with the permission of the property owner.