In a typical year, Minnesota’s ATV clubs hold over 75 ATV Safety Training Classes for riders age 10 to 15, certifying over 2,500 youth to be legal to ride ATVs. Unfortunately, this is not a typical year. All classes are postponed until further notice, as part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) response to COVID-19. The Governor’s “Stay at Home” order has also forced cancellation of annual meetings and rides by the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), attended by hundreds of members from around the state.

Like older students missing prom and graduation, many young riders are missing the opportunity to legally ride ATVs this summer with their parents on Minnesota’s vast public trail system. Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who is age 12 or older, must have a valid ATV Safety Certificate to operate on public lands, trails, and frozen waters, and when crossing road rights-of-way. Youth ages 10 to 15 must complete both an on-line class, and a “hands-on” riding course taught by DNR-certified instructors but now postponed. Riders born after July 1, 1987 who are age 16 and older are required to only take the on-line class to get their DNR Certificate, but are encourage to take the “hands-on” course. The on-line course includes information on basic operation, common parts and controls, operating safely and responsibly, trail riding, laws, riding skills, and protecting the environment. The “hands-on” portion features a simulated trail young riders maneuver on an ATV, complete with signs, small obstacles and a hill to be traversed.

The good news is that many of the State ATV Trail Systems opened on May 1, giving the riding public a great opportunity to escape the confines of their homes and ride their ATVs, while practicing social distancing. ATV clubs maintain 90% of the public ATV trails in Minnesota, and are able to do trail work. Club members who are certified DNR Trail Ambassadors are able to monitor trails to help keep them safe, and visit with riders at a distance about trails and regulations; they are not allowed to distribute maps, safety information or regulation books at this time. Some ATV club rides are going on as scheduled, with members using social distancing and other practices to avoid the spread of the virus. Camping in all State Forests as well as the Chippewa and Superior National Forests is currently prohibited.

Some ATV trails remain closed due to spring thaw and wet conditions. Before heading out, riders should check the Minnesota DNR website for the open/closed status of State ATV Trails and State Forest Roads. The website also features ATV regulations, trail maps and other helpful information. For additional details, contact the DNR Info Center by phone at 651-296-6157, or by email to info.dnr@state.mn.us. To learn more about ATVAM and to find an ATV club in the area where you live or ride, visit its website at www.atvam.org.

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