By: Robert Janis
District Uses Polaris T.R.A.I.L.S Grant Funds to
Finance Construction of Safety Training Course
According to Marsha Wikle, Assistant
Ranger of the Ironton Ranger District in
the Wayne National Forest in Ohio, the
photos show the grassy land that will be
transformed into the training course.
The Ironton Ranger District of the Wayne
National Forest in Ohio is using funds it
received from the Polaris T.R.A.I.L.S. Grant
Program to finance construction of an
The training course is actually part of a
larger project that also includes an addition to
an existing trail system and trail heads,
explained Marsha Wikle, assistant district
ranger for operations on the Ironton Ranger
District of the Wayne National Forest.
The idea to construct an ATV safety training
course came after half of the all-terrain
vehicle trail patrol were certified as ATV
safety instructors after taking a course
sponsored by Ohio State University. “We have an
ATV trail patrol that monitors 46 miles of ATV
trails in the Ironton Ranger District,” said
Wikle. “Five of our patrollers took the Ohio
State University course.”
About the same time, Doug Berringer, law
enforcement manager of the Ranger District, was
talking to Polaris about getting a Sportsman 500
which would assist him in performing his job.
When the idea of constructing a training course
came up, Berringer asked Polaris if the ranger
district could get a grant that would cover the
purchase of the Sportsman as well as the
construction of the training course. “He
mentioned to Polaris that we had an opportunity
to construct a venue for safety training and
Polaris got real excited about it,” said Wikle.
“So he submitted an application for a grant of
$10,000--$6,500 for the purchase of the
Sportsman 500 and $3,500 for the development of
the ATV safety training area.” The course soon
became one of the projects the T.R.A.I.L.S.
Grant Program financed in 2009.
The $3,500 will be used to grade the location of
the course as well as construct barricades
around the course. “There will be a designated
trail in the vicinity, so we need barricades to
keep riders off of the course,” said Wikle. A
bulletin board and a panel thanking volunteers
who helped develop the area including Polaris
would also be added to the site.
The Ranger District is also receiving a $325,000
grant from the Recreational Trails Program of
the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to
finance parts of the overall project. However,
according to Wikle, a lot more could be done, so
they are hoping to find more funds to do more
work. “There is a warm-up area near the training
course site that could use a couple of bridges.
That is not in the grant, but we are always
looking for more money so that we can include
it,” said Wikle.
The Ranger District is working the project in a
very efficient manner to save money and time.
For example, the grading of the site for the
training course will be performed by either a
trail maintenance company or a road maintenance
company already contracted by the government for
the overall project. “We will use part of the
trail maintenance workers or road maintenance
workers depending on whose equipment is most
suitable for doing the work that needs to be
done,” said Wikle. “We are trying to keep it
very simple and efficient. We don’t want to
create a separate contract because that would
cause a lot more overhead costs.”
Volunteers will also be used. “For example, if
we put in posts, then that will be done by our
Trail Patrol as volunteers,” said Wikle.
The ATV Safety Institute (ASI) is providing the
design of the course. “The ASI has a layout for
the course. It is a pretty simple template that
is about 200 ft. by 200 ft,” said Wikle.
In addition, the Ironton Ranger District
borrowed the services of a landscape architect
from the Alabama National Forest to fine tune
the design. “We had a design in mind, but we
wanted him to look at the area to see if any
improvements could be made. He didn’t make any
major changes. But in the vicinity there will be
toilets. So he worked with us on their
placement, and he also suggested placement of
the bulletin board. We also talked to him about
how much grading will have to be done and about
access to the training area,” said Wikle.
All the work on the course as well as the other
portions of the overall project will probably be
done at the same time. Wikle expects work to
begin sometime this summer. “The grading work
for the safety training course should take about
two days. Getting signage and the barricades up
should take another two days depending on how
well we coordinate and schedule the volunteers
and schedule the rock delivery,” she added.
The entire project could be done by the start of
the 2010 trail season, concluded Wikle.