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Don Davis, Published December 31 2009

Nonresidents need Minnesota ATV passes

ST. PAUL – All-terrain-vehicle riders from other states must buy passes beginning Friday to use Minnesota’s 2,000 miles of trails.

The new law is designed to help fund trail maintenance. An annual pass costs $21 and may be purchased via telephone, online or where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

The new law only affects out-of-state ATV drivers. Minnesotans already must register their ATVs and pay a fee. Snowmobiles also must be registered, whether they are from Minnesota or other states.

The passes are for a year and may be used on any state-operated trail. Passes are not needed if an ATV is used on a trail owned by the driver’s spouse, child or parent. The pass also is not needed for people driving on lakes, such as when moving fish houses.

Any ATV driver with an out-of-state driver’s license needs the pass.

“From the way this pass is set up, it doesn’t matter where the machine is registered,” said Ron Potter of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources trails division. “It is where the driver’s license is from.”

Potter suspects DNR officers will not issue many tickets immediately.

“Like most new laws, it will be a year of educating folks,” he said. “I do not anticipate they will be writing a lot of tickets the first year.”

Forrest Boe, the DNR parks and trails deputy director, predicted little immediate impact.

“There is not a lot of winter recreational ATV riding,” Boe said.

Most state trails are in northern Minnesota, and Potter said most out-of-state drivers come from North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

State officials estimate that about 10,000 of the 100,000 state trail users come from other states.

ATVs generally are small four-wheel vehicles. The law does not affect trucks and other off-road vehicles.

The ATV trails pass is one of just a few new laws that take effect Friday; most began on Aug. 1.

Another new law bans Minnesota manufacturers from selling children’s cups and bottles containing the chemical Bisphenol-A and bans stores from selling them after Jan. 1, 2011. The chemical is thought to cause cancer.

Also as of Friday, most Twin Cities residents who use plastic bags for yard waste will be required to use one that can be composted. The law also requires all bags purported to be biodegradable or “compostable” to meet certain standards.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. He can be reached at (651) 290-0707 or ddavis@forumcomm.com