Creating new crossroads for off-roads

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OCONTO, Wis. (WBAY) - Oconto is the latest community in Northeastern Wisconsin to open certain streets to off road vehicles. That mean after almost a decade, the dreams of the Oconto Area ATV Club have become a reality.

Ron Rauscher, treasury secretary of the club, is delighted with the recent progress "We've been at it for nine years and this last year it all just came together everybody got on board and it went very smooth."

The coordination included the club working with elected officials, as well as the fire and police departments.

Oconto Police Chief Bernie Faith believes there are multiple benefits to the new access. "There's a lot of reasons behind it. One is we want to open our county and our city. We also want to keep in mind that we want to keep it as safe as we can".

The coalition behind the new approved roads is working to circulate maps of the city that designate which roads are open to off-road vehicles. Most of the street signs are posted, but there is still work to do.

Glen Saule is another member of the Oconto Area ATV Club and is also pleased with the progress. "We have designated routes in the city. Not all the roads are open yet, but they're working on it".

While some of the roads are always open to approved vehicles, some of the roads have special restrictions on them.

Lt. Josh Bostedt with the Oconto Fire Department explains why certain stretches of road have time guidelines on them: "Some have some time restraints on them, like the streets with our local schools on them, we ask that it's not to be ATV during school time, that hour before school and that hour after school."

The hope going forward is to see more ATV routes connecting Oconto with other ATV and UTV friendly communities.

Saule has his eye on a major trail system located in a neighboring city.

"Eventually get a trail or route out of the city to hook up to Gillett, so from Gillett you could get all the way up to Michigan if you wanted to," he said.

Chief Faith agrees it will benefit all the communities involved. "The economic impact of this could be huge not only for our county but for other counties that surround us, and we're hoping to attract people to come here."

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