The Michigan Department of Natural Resources met to continue discussions on just how and where ORV users can access trails on state land around the state. Here in Traverse City, most ORV traffic takes places east of the Vasa trail network, although many ORVs access those trails using forest roads and two tracks that criss-cross both designated and unofficial non-motorized trails. It's an issue of access, sustainability, conservation, and fairness, and it's a conversation NMMBA has enjoyed a passionate and active voice in since the beginning.
Throughout these talks, we've maintained a positive and inclusive stance with three main interests at heart.
First, we want all discussions to center around maintaining a level of safety for all trail users, both motorized and non-motorized. We understand that intersection and mixed-use trails increase the likelihood of accidents, and we want to work with all trail users to reduce the chances of collisions using intelligent and effective trail design and construction.
Second, sustainability is at the very core of the NMMBA mission, and it's a high priority for other trail users, too. Our goal is to ensure that we protect environmentally sensitive areas and minimize the impact of our recreation anywhere in the Pere Marquette Forest, whether it's motorized or non-motorized.
Finally, we want to identify, form, and build strong relationships with all trail user groups. Building a network of contacts will help us communicate needs, damage, changes, and maintenance efforts between diverse outdoor enthusiasts, such as ORVs, mountain bikers, hikers, and more. We have a strong common interest in minimizing our collective impact on the trails and forest, and the more we work together, the stronger our community and better our trail experience.
Last night, our own Tom White was very active at the DNR's meeting in Cadillac, where diverse interests came together. Many passionate people were on hand, and after a very informative presentation about the current trail openings and closures, as well as a look at the proposal, we feel confident that we can work to create a fair and equitable system that works on the basis of our three core principles.
We invite you to communicate your questions, concerns, or feedback as mountain bikers with us, and with the DNR director. Tom also relayed some facts that might help form a better idea of the current state of affairs and timeline to contribute your input.
- The public comment forums end July 15.
- The foresters will incorporate the public comments into a new proposal and submit to the DNR director for review in October.
- The DNR director will make the final decision or ask for revisions to be
completed in November.
- The official maps come out in December of 2017.
- January 1, 2018 the law takes effect.
-There were approximately 7,600 miles of roads mapped in Lower Michigan.
-Approximately, 1,000 miles are designated as closed. Approximately 86% are open.
We have proposed to work with representative from all user groups, including the ORV, skiing, hiking, and other interested parties to construct a functioning proposal to show our respective communities and offer to the DNR before the deadline closes.
For more, we recommend visiting the DNR's page on PA 288.