Search for Florida ATV park site lurches forward

Publish Date: 
Nov 2, 2012

NAPLES, Fla. - The search for a spot for ATV riders in Collier County has been on for nearly a decade, bogged down in environmental challenges and lacking interested landowners.

A citizens committee appointed by Collier commissioners met three times this summer and has taken a field trip to visit one site in eastern Collier County, but hasn’t identified a site.

"It takes time," committee Chairman Joe Pelletier told the Naples News. "It's not something that can be done really fast because we're exploring all our options."

The South Florida Water Management District pledged in 2003 to find 640 acres for off-roaders as part of a deal to tear out county roads for an Everglades restoration project. The failed search ended in litigation. A settlement in 2011 put $3 million in the county's coffers to continue the search without the district.

Pelletier said the committee's first choice is to find a spot in Collier County, but the committee already is eyeing a possible partnership with owners of the Devil's Garden Mud Club in Clewiston.

A group of Mud Club representatives met this month with committee members to talk about the possibilities, which owner Donna Oates said are nearly unlimited at the 1,200-acre park that includes mud holes, a swimming hole, airboat track, a Jeep obstacle course and trails.

"We're open to anything really," said Oates, who said nearly 30 percent of their customers already make the trip from Collier County.

Posted by Holly Wagner