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      ATV riders have growing role in tourism

      ATV trails are all over Upper Michigan. Iron River is a hub for many trails that converge, and unlike most looping trails across the country, these allow you to pass through and keep going to the next town, offering a scenic view. The sport is growing in popularity. Skip Schulz, President of the UP ORV Trail Development Association, reports that it's becoming more family friendly.

      "The trails are family oriented. We bring in groups of families that come to ride simply because there's so much to see," said Schulz.

      Local businesses rely on the increased tourism from whole families rather than lone riders. When they pass through, they eat, gas up, and often stay overnight before moving on.

      "When people come up to the area to ride, they do stay here and they do spend their money here. They invest in the local businesses that don't always see the business all the time," said Allison Maloney, Director of Sales for the AmericInn of Iron River.

      Schulz reports that ORV users tend to spend over $500 million a year across Michigan.

      "This is a business that is going to be into the billions, and it's a business for touring that goes nine months a year," Schulz said.

      Senate Bill 50 was introduced in January, and according to Schulz, it is trying to make it legal for ATV riders to ride continuously across the U.P., like Ironwood to Sault Ste. Marie. ATVs can't legally ride along certain highways, so riders have to pack up and move from one spot to another, unlike snowmobilers.