I thought some of you might be interested to see what GLFWDA is doing to improve 4x4 opportunities here in Michigan. It's a pretty good list, but they could do more if they had more members and more money . . . (hint, hint
GLFWDA Land Use Committee Report - 3rd Quarter 2007
The GLFWDA Land Use Committee has addressed a number of issues this last quarter. Below is an itemized update to advise you of the status of the issues as of 8/18/07.
FEDERAL LAND USE (NFS)
Committee members are now receiving the Schedule Of Proposed Actions (SOPA) for the Huron-Manistee National Forest. This document lists all of the projects that will be undertaken over the next quarter. This will allow the Land Use Committee to monitor projects for proposed road closures and become involved in the process in the earliest stages. This will maximize our ability to prevent the loss of important 4WD roads within the Forest. We are seeking volunteers to monitor the Hiawatha and Ottawa Forests in the Upper Peninsula. If you are interested in assisting, please contact Pat Brower at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our first round of comments has yielded very positive results! They have given the NFS a clear understanding of what we desire for a “road” system in the Project Area. This also establishes ‘legal standing’ for future appeal of the Project Decision if it does not go well for us. Most importantly, however, our comments have served as an opportunity for the four-wheel drive community to begin a positive, working relationship with the Baldwin Ranger District. Our comments and developing relationship have guided the NFS to reform its intentions for the Project Area to include an additional 2.4 miles of Level 2 (High-Clearance 4WD) Roads in its “Preferred Alternative” in the second stage of the process. This ‘second stage’ refers to the publication of the “M37 Project Environmental Assessment”. This publication also opens the second 30-day public comment period.
Our second comments were also well received. We asked that seven additional roads be left open. These roads provide continuity of the ‘rustic’ transportation system of the area. Without them, a driver must travel many miles out of their way on the maintained transportation system (An undesirable condition) to re-enter the ‘rustic system’ on the other side of the proposed obstructions. Initial phone conversations with Project Coordinators have indicated that four of our requests should be able to be accommodated reasonably easily, one has a 50/50 chance and depends on the ‘OK’ to move a proposed endangered species habitat boundary, and two have very little chance at this time. This is because these two requests are asking to have previously closed roads reopened. This would require the NFS to review and overturn previous decisions. It was also brought up by the NFS that “it might be better if the NFS recommended that the Newaygo County Road Commission repair Taylor Road, rather than ask them to abandon it”. The NFS initially proposed to ask for abandonment.
We doubted that we would meet with as much success as we have. This is our first attempt to respond to National Forest Projects. The final decision has yet to be made and nothing is certain until that happens, but it sure looks positive at this point! If in their initial response, the NFS were to grant us the 2.4 miles, four of our seven additional requests, and ask that the NCRC repair –not abandon- Taylor Road, then the committee would call this a tremendous victory for our sport! We will have saved close to ten miles of trail and preserved the connectivity of the system.
Huron-Manistee 2006 Forest Plan Appeal
The NFS has conceded one of our five appeal points. The Huron-Manistee Forest Plan will now include language allowing for the designation of 4x4 Trails/ Routes as a separate entity from the road system. This will allow for the development of design, maintenance, and financial criteria more in line with our sport and more easily accommodated by the under-funded NFS. We are waiting for the official publication of the “Final Decision Notice” that excludes our other four points before we file for financial assistance from the United Land Action Fund to hire a Michigan Land Use Attorney to work with United Four Wheel Drive Associations’ Attorney, Carla Boucher, to file our Appeal and begin proceedings to address our remaining concerns.
The purpose of this project is to designate the first 4x4 Route in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. This designation differs from the State’s ORV Route designation because it does not designate the operation of ‘quads’ and non-street licensed motorcycles or side-by-side style RUVs. This is a designation intended strictly for OUR user group! We are working diligently to map all of the existing trails and obstacles in the project area. The area is quite large and is defined by M-37, M-55, and M-115. We will work to include as much of the “good stuff” as is practicable during the initial round of development. This will likely be an on-going project that will start small and grow to include more Routes and bigger/ better obstacles as the need is demonstrated and the Service’s concerns are shown to be unfounded.
STATE ISSUES (DNR)
Advisory Board Meetings
The Advisory Board is forming a Sub-Committee to determine a long-range spending plan for the ORV program. The Land Use Committee was successful in acquiring a seat on the Sub-Committee so that GLFWDA has the opportunity to ensure that 4x4 recreation is considered throughout the Plan. Land Use Committee member and GLFWDA Treasurer, Paul Hittie, has been gracious enough to accept this position on our behalf.
State Forest Plan Revision
The State Forest Plan Revision process has been halted by the DNR. The Department felt that the document was not inclusive of a number of other initiatives currently under way that have a direct impact on the ORV program. The process will resume with the introduction of a much more comprehensive document ‘at some point in the future’.
25% New Trails Bill -- Route Proposal Project
GLFWDA has undertaken two differing approaches to accomplish our goals for the designation of new ORV Routes. The Michigan Motorized Recreation Council (MMRC) desires to make a unified proposal for which GLFWDA did make submissions. While it is in the better long-range interests of GLFWDA to continue participation with the MMRC, GLWFDA does not agree with the approach the MMRC has elected to utilize to try to complete their proposals. GLFWDA feels that these proposals should begin with the support and guidance of the local ORV techs. Paige Perry of the Eastern Lower Peninsula has already expressed interest in improving those Routes in her jurisdiction. The LUC will be scheduling several GPS trail mapping dates to collect data that will be used to connect the existing system, utilizing 4x4 friendly trails, and to locate obstacles and abandoned gravel pits on public land for possible inclusion. GLFWDA will continue to utilize both avenues to better our recreation.
The LUC has been very active in the issues developing on Drummond Island. Jeep Jamboree received a citation from a CO while on Marble Head. After a great deal of correspondence, this ticket was rescinded because the group was operating under an approved Event Permit. This incident served to illustrate the inadequacy of the system on the Island. The majority of the paths that Jamboree uses are technically designated as ORV Trail. That means that for a 4x4 to utilize the path, it must meet the definition of a State Forest Road and be traversable by a conventional two-wheel drive sedan. The LUC is working collaboratively with Jeep Jamboree, Drummond Island Tourist Association, Drummond Island Resort Association, DI Off-Road Club, and other groups to have the entire system re-designated as ORV Route. This would eliminate the two-wheel drive concern. We are unable to report specifics because this is still ‘in process’ but I can at least let you know that it appears to be going very well for our form of recreation. We will keep you apprised of developments as they are finalized.
County / Local Issues
Monitor Seasonal Road Closures
Muskegon County has approved the financial expenditure to have a neutral, third party, biologist perform a survey of wild Lupine plants within the Staple Road ROW. The results of this study will dictate where the CRC will be able to reopen the easement to travel without affecting the Karner Blue Butterfly population adjacent to the “road”.
Muskegon County has also tasked their maintenance people to remove the obstruction on Schow road. Before that can be done, the surveying crew needs to set stakes to define the ROW. They are currently very busy with other staking projects and probably will not be able to do Schow Rd. for several weeks. Some reaction from the property owner is anticipated when this occurs, so the MCRC attorney will follow up with a letter. The ROW should be opened sometime later this year.
The Newaygo CRC has received a Petition for Abandonment for 64th Street between M-37 (Evergreen) and Willow in Brooks Township. The LUC will inspect this road to determine its value to GLFWDA. Because all rustic travel ways are important to us, to a degree, GLFWDA LUC representatives will attend the scheduled hearing.
Mounds ORV Park (Rock Course RFP)
The Mounds has received a bid to design a rock course at the Mounds ORV Park. The DNR indicated that it is common for the local firm who gets the bid (usually because they already meet the stringent requirements to work with the government) to subcontract with outside ‘experts’ during some of the more specialized aspects of the project. The LUC is working to ensure that this will result in the inclusion of WE Rock for the course layout.
Kidds in the Mud Extreme Farm
The LUC recently attended the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting scheduled for the Kidds Park. It was obvious to those in attendance that the ZBA will not approve the required permit. This is fully expected by the owner and is actually preferred. The Courts have been far more beneficial to his position than the local Township.
Compilation of 4x4 user spending data
The LUC would like to urge you to download and print copies of the “GLFWDA Tailgate Report” found at http://www.glfwda.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3733
It is important to compile local spending data to prove our economic value to the DNR. Everyone involved with our sport recognizes our financial impact to the local communities, except the Department. Please send us your Reports!
The LUC is forming groups of volunteers (Members and non-members alike) who are willing to gather GPS Data of trails utilizing a uniform set of standards. These groups will be dubbed ’KOTARO Teams’. KOTARO stands for Keep Our Trails And Roads Open. The goal is to gather complete data to submit to the National Forest Service for inclusion in the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs). The Huron MVUM will be published in 2008, the Manistee in the spring of 2009. The maps will be reviewed annually and additional GPS routes may be considered for inclusion. Data gathering will be easiest before publication of the MVUMs make travel on the majority of trails illegal. Contact Pat Brower ( email@example.com
) or Bob DeVore ( firstname.lastname@example.org
) if you are interested in assisting.
If you have an interest in seeing Michigan’s four wheeling opportunities advance, join us! A Membership Application is available in the Land Use Committee section of the GLFWDA Forums. You can also contact Pat Brower (email@example.com.) for information about membership, or any of the issues facing our sport.
Chair, Land Use Committee, GLFWDA