We Need Your Comments: DNR Proposal Opens 6k+ Miles of Northern Michigan Trails to ORV Use

There’s still time for you to make your voice heard.The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is accepting comments until November 16, 2017 on recommendations to allow off-road vehicles access to thousands of miles of state forest roads across the northern Lower Peninsula. Huron Pines has real concerns about the long-term impact these decisions will have on the land. We’ve worked on many projects over the last three decades to restore land damaged by ORV traffic.

Here’s just one one of those stories, and two ways you can encourage the DNR to protect the environment by more carefully managing off-road vehicle access in Michigan.

ORV Traffic Continues to Damage the AuSable River

We have been taking steps to restore a stretch of river on the North Branch of the AuSable since 2001. The site originally had unrestricted vehicle access on both sides of the river, which led to people driving through the water to get across. Despite many attempts to restore the area and deter vehicles from crossing (including rocks, boulders, and metal barriers) we’ve returned to the site again and again to see the damage continue. Here are photos taken this week that show tire tracks driving into the river despite over $40,000 having been spent to close passage and restore the riverbank.

AuSable North Branch Tire Tracks

AuSAble Guard Rails

AuSable Tracks Into River

More Consideration Needed

Once a trail is laid down, or an area is open, it is extremely hard to deter future use.This is of particular concern to us near rivers, lakes, wetlands, stream crossings and areas with known endangered species. We have yet to see anything similar to an overall environmental impact study on the effect opening 6,000+ miles of roads will have on natural resources. There also doesn’t seem to be a plan in place for maintaining these roads with the increased use.

Want to Help? Here’s What You Can Do

1) Visit the DNR Roads Web Map and follow the directions that pop up to place a comment on specific roads that are near rivers and lakes or in non-motorized natural resource areas that you believe should be protected.

OR

2) Email your comments to the DNR at: DNR-RoadInventoryProject@michigan.gov

Here is some language you can include in map comments or email:

This road [INSERT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING: dead ends at a stream/runs parallel to a river or lake/appears to ford the river] a practice that always results in downstream sedimentation problems and is not appropriate for our coldwater, high-quality water systems. I ask that the state look very closely at this area and if there is no loop or other “destination” available consider closing this segment to prevent damage to our natural resources.

This road intersects a non-motorized trail. I encourage the state to take a closer look at this area and consider maintaining it as a “quiet recreation area” with no motorized traffic.


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