WTIP file photo

Border to Border meeting in Cook County canceled

A meeting scheduled for today at 1 p.m. about the proposed Border to Border Touring Route at the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais has been canceled.

The meeting was an extension of the commissioners’ committee of the whole work session scheduled for today. Andrew Brown from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the agency’s lead contact on the border to border route, was scheduled to participate in the discussion and be present for the meeting. Brown told county officials this morning that he would not be traveling from Grand Rapids for the meeting. Also scheduled to speak during the meeting was Mike Crotteau from the Gunflint Ranger Station about the Forest Service’s perspective on the B2B route.

Rena Rogers, the interim county administrator, said the meeting is not taking place due to a variety of circumstances, including the fact Brown was not planning to attend the meeting.

In an email sent to WTIP this morning, Brown said he was not attending the meeting because “I really didn’t have much to say regarding the project that hasn’t been said already. MN DNR will be reviewing the project alignment to determine if it triggers an environmental review through MN Rules. Once that process is completed we will be working with partner road authorities to formalize the route and develop agreements for signs, maintenance, monitoring, etc.”

On Feb. 14, a letter was sent to the Cook County Board of Commissioners from Rick Langness, the president of the Minnesota Four-Wheel Drive Association. The four-wheel drive association is a partner of the DNR in planning to the motorized touring route across northern Minnesota. In his letter, Langness said his organization is no longer interested in partnering with Cook County regarding the B2B.

As WTIP has reported recently, it appears the B2B will now have a starting point in Silver Bay and stay in Lake County, with Cook County no longer being included in the route.

Below is a copy of the letter sent from Langness:

Chairman Bursheim and Cook County Board of Commissioners:

This is to inform you developments have occurred making it necessary to convey we are no longer interested in partnering with Cook County on the Border-to-Border Touring Route.

While we appreciate the nearly two years of rigorous attention and effort we’ve devoted to this issue in your county, and the invitation to continue working with you to provide additional planning and process, we feel we owe it to our members and to our other partners along the route to move forward. That is why we are excited to let you know we recently reached-out to Lake County leaders, who approved a B2B Route-Head alignment in Silver Bay – on the same day they were approached. The MN4WDA board decision to cease partnership was unanimous.

While we regret we will not be partnering on the project as part of the official alignment, we do plan on taking the advice of the many citizens who reminded us the rugged backroads of your beautiful county are already open to touring riders as legal roads for highway licensed drivers.

The Cook County board and staff should get recognition for the effort that was put into considering the B2B. Commissioner Bobby Deschampe deserves high-praise for his support of the project, and special recognition goes to Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk for her spirited, thoughtful and measured leadership in support of the B2B, often under difficult circumstances.

Rick Langness, President
MN Four-Wheel Drive Assn