This story has been updated
CHIPPEWA FALLS — The Chippewa County Board rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have allowed three-quarter ton pickup trucks on a trail in the county forest after hearing from several area residents who objected to the plan.
The County Forest Comprehensive Land Use Plan called for allowing motorized vehicles — under frozen ground conditions only — onto 0.9 mile of a snowmobile trail and a 3.7-mile trail commonly called the Tealey Creek Game Loop in the town of Birch Creek, west of Holcombe.
The board voted 11-4 against the resolution.
“I think this is just a terrible idea,” said Supervisor Tom Thornton of Stanley. “This is a pristine area. I see no reason to do this. We have hundreds of miles of roads in the county forest system. There is absolutely no reason to open up this trail. It is gated; leave it gated.”
However, Supervisor John Ewer of Holcombe said he has spoken to numerous people who were generally for it. Ewer, Glen Sikorski, Dean Gullickson and James Mickelson cast votes for the measure.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board heard from several members of the public who all spoke against the proposal.
County resident John Bowe said the trail wasn’t designed to hold motorized vehicles.
“To me, this whole proposal is full of holes. I don’t understand it,” Bowe said.
Carolyn Kaiser of the town of Wheaton encouraged the board to vote against the resolution, saying that a vast majority of people who have spoken at public hearings didn’t want the plan to move forward.
“People do, for example, snowshoe, cross-country ski and hike in this area,” Kaiser said. “It is regarded as a wildlife habitat, a place for serenity.”
Harold Flater, former owner of Flater’s Resort, encouraged the board to reject the proposal.
“It’s not a place for four-wheel-drive vehicles,” Flater said.
The county’s Land Conservation and Forestry Management Committee had approved the resolution, with a cost estimate of $5,000 for improving road access to the trail.
In other news, finance director Melissa Roach said the county is planning to borrow $6 million — $4 million for a new radio system and $2 million for road projects. The board approved the borrowing package on a 14-1 vote.
In one final note, the board unanimously created a new full-time position for an administrative assistant who would work in the county clerk’s office 60 percent of the time and the remainder in the veteran’s service office. The county clerk’s office currently has three workers; the part-time employee would become a full-time worker.
County Administrator Randy Scholz said this would be a midyear addition. Scholz said it will help with retention of an employee to offer a full-time position rather than try and hire multiple part-time workers.