Cook County line. Submitted photo
Submitted photo

Sheriff clarifies Border-to-Border “tipping point” comments

Since the idea of a border-to-border four-wheel drive touring route was adopted by the Minnesota Legislature in 2015, there has been a great deal of discussion across the state. Because the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s plan for what has been dubbed the Border-to-Border Touring Route, or the B2B, includes the use of forest roads in Cook County, the Cook County Board of Commissioners has been asked by some citizens to weigh in on the concept.

There are some who feel a designated border-to-border route will bring too many new visitors to the county. Others argue that the establishment of the B2B route will formalize the roads that Jeeps and four-wheel drive trucks already use. There have been several public meetings, some quite emotional, as the county has debated whether it should make a statement in support of, or in opposition to, the B2B route passing through the county.

At recent meetings, the question of the region’s capacity to handle more tourists was raised.

The question of how many visitors the county can handle was brought to the forefront by a letter dated Dec. 27, 2019, from Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen to the commissioners and various county staff indicating the sheriff’s concerns about the B2B. In the letter, the sheriff states concern about an “unknown amount of new visitors in the area, which is already experiencing a tipping point where demand far outweighs resources and the ability to conjure further reserves if needed.” See the sheriff’s letter here.

Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk noted that the sheriff’s concerns about the B2B touring route should apply across the board, to any outdoor recreation or tourism event.

Since the letter became public, Sheriff Pat Eliasen has said that he is not specifically opposed to the B2B route, but just wanted to share some concerns.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with Sheriff Eliasen for some clarification on his letter.