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Tiny, secluded county wants no part of ATV plan

Friday, Jan 30, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* NIMBY strikes again

One of the first tasks awaiting Illinois’ new state park czar is finding common ground over a proposed new park for all-terrain vehicle riders.

Hunters, neighbors and local officials have raised red flags over a plan to transform an undeveloped part of a western Illinois state park into a haven for motorcycle and off-highway vehicle riders, arguing the facility would take a prime white-tail deer hunting spot out of circulation with noise and increased traffic.

Off-highway vehicle aficionados say the state needs to move forward on the park in order to justify a new fee the state is charging on their vehicles.

The state’s new ATV fee is between $10 and $15. The money is supposed to go to build an ATV course on a state park. And the Buckhorn unit of Siloam Springs State Park is a little-used area in need of some upgrades. The state bought the land with federal money in 2001 and hasn’t done much to upgrade the thing.

* Locals are peeved

John Falrin, chairman of the Brown County Board of Supervisors, said public sentiment is against the park. In December, the board approved a resolution opposing the facility.

“I could never find anybody in this county that said they would use something like this,” Falrin said.

He also doubts the park would result in a big bump in tax revenue.

“What are they going to buy here? A little gasoline? A little beer? That’s not going to amount to much,” Falrin said.

Oh, I dunno, maybe the local antique shop and restaurant owners might see a substantial uptick, or a new ATV/RV sales and repair shop could open? Maybe even a new motel or bed and breakfast, for those not into camping?

Sheesh. The guy has zero imagination.

* Here’s how Brown County, population 6,937, touts itself on its website

We are a small community with big city thinking!

Big city thinking, perhaps, but they sure don’t want any of those big city people coming in.

* Les Davenport at Heartland Outdoors penned a vicious screed against the ATV park before the announcement was made. But he actually wound up undermining his fellow opponents and partially made the case for it

Decrepit, dangerous buildings are still standing in this public area. The Buckhorn, however, does provide thousands of resident-only deer hunters, small game hunters, fishermen, mushroom seekers and hikers a great place to enjoy the sights and whispers of nature. This may end soon if Director Marc Miller gets his way!

It is strongly rumored that Miller wants to turn this park into “The Midwest’s Biggest and Best ATV Park.” It’s said that he wishes to draw ATV enthusiasts from all across the Midwest. Most of us would rather see non-residents stay in their own state and tear up their own public land.

OK, first of all, those “decrepit, dangerous buildings” on the parkland will finally be fixed. And, secondly, locals don’t own that land, the state does. If they don’t want “non-residents” using “their” park, then they should buy their own park.

* Last summer, I was looking for a place to camp during Labor Day weekend. I stumbled across a Missouri state park which looked interesting

The roar of engines breaks the stillness of the Old Lead Belt at St. Joe State Park, one of two off-road vehicle parks in the state system. The sand flats, hills, and 2,000 acres set aside for off-road vehicle use make the park the premiere off-road vehicle area. The park also features four lakes, with two swimming beaches, an equestrian trail, a hiking and bicycling trail, and picnic sites, as well as two campgrounds capable of accommodating campers with ORV or horse trailers.

I don’t have an ATV, but that seemed like a pretty cool thing to do. I may get one if this Illinois park opens. And tons of state parks throughout the country have set aside land for ATV parks.

* I get that some locals don’t want the noise or the bother of an ATV park in their area. But this thing has to go somewhere.


  1. - Mason born - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:16 am:

    –But this thing has to go somewhere.–

    Ought to make this a companion to the Sparta shooting complex. They over designed Sparta thinking they were going to have the next Camp Perry matches and locals are used to a noisy recreation in their back yard.

  2. - Give Me A Break - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:19 am:

    Having been to Brown County, I think what they really fear is someone from outside the county telling the locals about the outside world and the fact you can’t drive off the edge of it.

  3. - jerry 101 - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    ==We are a small community with big city thinking!==

    Actually, this does sound like big city thinking.

    NIMBY’s. Stupid NIMBY’s.

  4. - Been There - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    ===Big city thinking, perhaps, but they sure don’t want any of those big city people coming in.===
    Well they do have the only county fair that allows betting on their horse races.

  5. - Just Because - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:27 am:

    i have been going to St. Joe State Park for years. I have seen large amounts of wild life in the riding area. Deer, turkey…. I can only hope Illinois would create something like that here. I have also done a lot of ridding at Turkey Bay Kentucky. They still allow deer hunters in the area during deer season. I do agree with the noise but if created and managed correctly this could be very good for Illinois.

  6. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    I’m from a county bordering brown, and lots of my friends have traveled to other states to use ATV parks. This guy is a typical small town NIMBY moron.

  7. - Vole - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    Bs. This doesn’t need to go anywhere other than some brownfield site where the noise will be muffled by the din of big city noise. This Is no role for the DNR!

  8. - Mason born - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:30 am:


    –The state’s new ATV fee is between $10 and $15. The money is supposed to go to build an ATV course on a state park.–

    SO should the fee be canceled and returned?

  9. - D.P.Gumby - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:32 am:

    There’s unused land at the Rock Island Arsenal that would be perfect for an ATV park!

  10. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:32 am:

    ===other than some brownfield site===

    Yeah, because I wanna be inhaling all those chemicals.

  11. - VanillaMan - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:35 am:

    Brown county is very beautiful. I understand why they don’t want to try new things. Did they ever get an Internet connection? I think they were about the last place to get one.

    What about paving those streets? Dirt roads can be charming, but not during dry hot summers.

    Sewage. They ought to give that a try too!

  12. - Vole - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:41 am:

    There should have been no fee on ATVs. This is absolutely nothing the already over stretched DNR should be involved in. Keep your freaking motors out of the woods. Try walking.

  13. - seen the big picture - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:42 am:

    What a complete line of bull! I live in Brown County and know of hundereds of Brown and area county folks that would use the park.Who did Falrin ask? He didnt ask any ATV owners.

  14. - A. Nonymous - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:44 am:

    Rich Miller - “===other than some brownfield site=== Yeah, because I wanna be inhaling all those chemicals.”


    Chemical fumes. ATV exhaust.

    Is there a big difference?

  15. - A. Nonymous - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:49 am:

    PS: “Off-highway vehicle aficionados say the state needs to move forward on the park in order to justify a new fee the state is charging on their vehicles.”

    The same argument is being made right now re the OSLAD grants that Gov. Rauner froze on his first day.

    It’s a dedicated fund which many communities in the state have paid more into than they’ve received back.

    I have yet to find a legislator from either side of the aisle who is willing to sweep the fund so all the Governor’s blanket freeze is doing is delaying summer construction projects.

  16. - Vole - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:50 am:

    Buying one these beasts has bought no one the right to access public land. Let the private interests that profit from these sales develop their own private ATV parks. Keep the factory out of the woods.

  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:52 am:

    ===Is there a big difference? ===

    Yeah. Contaminated dirt in your eyes, lungs and all over your skin is a lot more harmful.

  18. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 11:53 am:

    ===Buying one these beasts has bought no one the right to access public land===

    Um, yes it has. See fees, ATV, above.

  19. - Vole - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:01 pm:

    No Rich. The state imposed this fee you don’t buy access by forking out thousands of bucks at the dealer. The DNR should be protecting natural resources from development and not be actively involved in destroying them.

  20. - langhorne - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:07 pm:

    people buy big boy and big girl toys–because they can. if they can afford the toys, they can afford to spend money on pizza, beer, lodging, gear and accessories. mitigate the annoyances and focus on the positives. when was the last time hundreds, or even dozens, of people wanted to go to brown county? good opportunities are rarely convenient.

  21. - Fr. Murphy - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:10 pm:

    The long term damage down to the environment cannot be repaired. And how about the toll atv’s take on wildlife with the noise, pollution and terror when the vehicles come storming after them for “fun.”

  22. - Wordslinger - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:13 pm:

    Haven’t been to this spot, but I’m not surprised. Plenty of outdoor activities are in conflict all over, and it can be difficult to find a balance.

    Noticed that they don’t allow outboards on the lake, just trolling motors.

    If you’re up in a tree stand waiting on a buck, or on your boat waiting on a bite, you don’t always apprecitate the roar of ATVs of dirtbikes.

  23. - Leave a Light on George - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:17 pm:

    I’ve been to both places. Sparta is a better idea.

  24. - justthefacts - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:22 pm:

    I have been in the buckhorn unit of Siloam Springs Park, it is a pristine woodland, they idea of turning it into an ATV park is repulsive to me. There are strict rules for hunters; they more or less have to leave the woods as the found it, and they generally do, save harvesting the deer. Since the county is opposed to this I can guarantee you the local sheriff is going to watch people going in and out like a hawk.

  25. - Mason born - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:25 pm:


    Out of my own curiosity I’ve seen you complain that IDNR caters too much to hunters because they pay the fees. Now you are complaining of IDNR building a park paid for with user fees. How would you like to see IDNR funded??

  26. - Newsclown - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:30 pm:

    Based on the documented golf cart driving of Rich Miller, I don’t think giving him an ATV license is in the best interest of public safety… (ducks, runs)

  27. - Vole - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:41 pm:

    Mason. Every citizen of Illinois should be paying an annual environmental/conservation/habitat fee and issued a card that would allow access to parks, camping, hiking trails, etc. No need for ridiculous canoe/kayak stamps. This would provide more balance and put more funds to ecological restoration.

  28. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:41 pm:

    ===Every citizen of Illinois should be paying===

    Then pass a bill.

  29. - Mason born - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 12:56 pm:


    That wouldn’t be a fee that would be a tax. Since in essence you are saying no one could opt out. I know people who never get more outdoors than walking to a movie.

    You may not like it but the current fee schedule is fair and allows most of those who utilize state facilities to pay for them.

    Much better than a blanket tax on everyone. No offense but you might as well fund it out of General Revenue.

  30. - Abraham Froman - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    I did some backpack camping at Siloam Springs last summer, it was a nice place although all the water fountains where the springs were didn’t work. We had to go into the car campground to get water to carry in to the backpack campground, no big deal just a small delay. There were at least a few ATVs being used on the roads and on the two track trails so there is an interest locally. From my experiences ATVs seem pretty common in rural areas so why not build a park that could attract visitors? Noise pollution exists everywhere due to airlines so that point shouldn’t be a deciding factor. If fees are supposed to be used to build an ATV park I’d prefer it to go to a community that could use the tourists and their dollars.

    Personally i think the IDNR needs to install backpack camping fee/registration drop pipes in more facilities since finding a ranger or host to pay can be tricky sometimes, i want to pay for using the parks but more than once i had to spend a few hours waiting for a campground host to return to pay my $6/night fee when i would’ve preferred to fill out a slip and drop it in the pipe like i can do in parks in Michigan, Kentucky and other places i camp. It is the honor system but if somebody is looking to cheat the parks out of a few bucks i am not sure how you will ever convince them to pay their share…

  31. - Vole - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 1:50 pm:

    How many people who pay the additional $2 for license plates that was added to fund the state parks actually use any state park?
    There needs to be a way for everyone who uses any state natural asset to assist with paying for their costs. Bird watchers, hikers, bikers, canoeists, hunters, fishermen, campers etc. could all be assessed an annual user permit. So, OK, a universal fee may be too broad.

  32. - Mason born - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 2:10 pm:


    I would say the current system works quite well as long as no one sweeps the funds. (I suspect we will see more of that with the “budget time bomb” great title Rich) Yes Hunters and Fisherman pay more and are rewarded with greater emphasis. Which btw results in a considerable impact in the sale of gear and services related to those activities. As a Sportsman and Camper I really don’t mind if Bird watchers, hikers, bikers, and little kids on field trips get to enjoy those services as well. I would love to see IDNR transitioned to a fee funded organization independent of GRF. Wouldn’t even mind a small excise tax on firearms, fishing gear, outdoor gear, and camping stuff say .5% to help pay for IDNR and drop the plate fee.

  33. - siriusly - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 3:06 pm:

    If the state can designate areas for ATV use and the users pay for the parks themselves - then why not. I much prefer to see a designated recreational area vs. having ATV riders mess up other state parks.

  34. - Mike Yingling / Big Ying - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 3:31 pm:

    First of all, the Brown County Board Chairman’s name is Salrin, not Falrin. The board has listened to a lot of information on ATV parks. The problem is, it is hard to know for sure what of it is reliable and what is not. What we know for sure is there will be noise and the neighbors who live around the park will have to live with it and most likely be annoyed by it. There will have to be considerable erosion from the construction of trails unless the state plans to pave them all. It is hard to imagine that hunting will be enhanced by the operation of the park. Some of what we don’t know: will there be substantial economic benefit from people coming in and staying more than a day, or will it be mostly just coming for the day, bringing everything they need with them, and going back home? Will the state have the funding to operate the park safely, or will it meet the same destiny as many other Illinois public facilities? Will the state be able to provide law enforcement and emergency medical service for the facility, or will that fall upon local tax payers? Will ATV riders stay on the park or go riding on the neighbor’s places? Answer me these things and we will know if this is a good thing for Brown County.

  35. - Vole - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 3:47 pm:

    Mike. Thanks for adding the local perspective. I can’t see this enhancing the quality of living for the neighbors. Easy for a spring patch city dweller to cry NIMBY.

  36. - plutocrat03 - Friday, Jan 30, 15 @ 5:14 pm:

    Change is hard and the State has a history of starting things one way and evolving in to something different.

    If someone would show the locals a preliminary plan then they could make a more informed decision. Lots of arm waving and big promises should make anyone wary.

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