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Tread Lightly Reminder for Spring Trail & Road Use

U.S. Forest managers remind all trail users to practice TREAD principles during spring trail and road use. Although the winter weath­er was mild, Minnesota’s roads and trail beds experienced a freeze-thaw environment. Us­ers may create deep ruts and mud holes along the trail and road systems, which increases the time and expense for the forest and trail partners who work year-round maintaining them and raises safety issues for users.

National Forest Service trails, both motor­ized and non-motorized, within the Superior National Forest (SNF) can incur substantial resource damage during the spring thaw. Aligned with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Superior ATV trail systems are open May 1 – October 31. Trails also experience spring storm damage, where downed trees may result in impassable trails, some even deep into a trail system. Patience is requested as forest staff and partners work to clean up trails and prepare them for visi­tors.

“Our trails cross a mosaic of landownership to ensure connectivity. Our staff and partners work hard year-round to ensure these trails are safe and accessible,” says Michelle de Leon, Developed Recreation Program Man­ager – SNF, “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners like the MN DNR and the many trail associations across the for­est to not only maintain the trails and access but also in working towards adapting policies and procedures to allow for more flexibility as varied seasonal weather continues.”

National Forest Service roads within the Superior National Forest have been under a seasonal spring load restriction of four (4) tons per axle since March 11.

“Our main goal is to reduce negative im­pacts on road surfaces like rutting, washouts, and other resource damage that vehicular traffic can cause during the spring,” said Preston Tripp, a Civil Engineer at the Superi­or National Forest.

State and county spring load limits are in effect for all other roads. Limiting heavy loads in the spring on roads in freeze-thaw environments like Minnesota helps to protect road structure. Load limits are expected to continue into May.

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