- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A plan to convert part of a western Illinois state park into a facility for all-terrain vehicles is awaiting a decision from the new head of state parks.

It’s not clear when a verdict could come from former state Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, who took over as director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources this month, the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers (https://bit.ly/1EUK7hz ) reported. The plan calls for putting the facility in an undeveloped portion of Siloam Springs State Park.

Local officials, hunters and residents near the park say the ATVs would be noisy and increase traffic, while also eliminating a prime spot for hunting white-tailed deer. Brown County, which contains part of Siloam Springs State Park, recently passed a resolution to oppose a facility.

Advocates for the facility say Illinois should go forward with the plan, pointing to a $10 to $15 ATV fee meant go to a park for the vehicles.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Young said in a statement that Rosenthal wants to meet with both sides. A meeting between hunters and riders hasn’t been set, Young said.

The ATV and motorcycle facility would be Illinois’ first run by the state, and would compete with ones in other states.

State Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, backs a riding facility in his district, and plans to talk soon with Rosenthal. He said Brown County’s opposition would play into whether he ultimately recommends the plan.

“To me, that sends a pretty loud message,” Sullivan said. “I have to take that into consideration.”

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