|March 30th, 2006, 06:42 PM||#1|
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The Issues we face in 2006 by Dick Ranney
The Issues We Face in 2006 by Dick Ranney What are some of the major issues that Michigan ATV enthusiasts face in 2006? Dick Ranney, the Chair of the ORV Advisory Board recently responded to some of these issues in a recent forum. He is responding to comments made by others.
Have been watching the discussions here for a few months, not commented, because it becomes very time consuming and there are many things to be involved in that are more productive to some extent, than spending time on one, of many websites. But of late, many things have been put up here, some are quite distance from what really went on and the rumors are spreading.
We as ORV people, have far better things to do with our time, than to punch a PC keyboard. That time could be much better spent, e-mailing a Representative, Senator or MDNR personal stating your wishes. Better yet, become directly involved and join a club, or form one in your own area.
Quite frankly, the future of our sport is in some serious jeopardy. I know that because I am the Chair of the DNR ORV Trail Advisory Board in Michigan. The absolute last thing we want to do, is have a division among us. We need to all be going in the same direction, the same page, as much as possible. Don't care if you 2, 4 or six wheels. We are going to have areas of disagreement. That don't mean we have to be disagreeable. End result will be, we agree far more, than we disagree.
We all want more trail, we all want it to be better maintained, we all want it so we don't get lost and we hate a ticket. We want to be able to at least be able to get food, gasoline and a reasonable distance from either lodging or camping while enjoying this recreational activity. Better yet, we would like the priviledge of riding from our home, if we live in northern Michigan, or riding from our motel or campground to the trail
Having been deeply involved in ORV activity for over two decades, both with motorcycles and ORV's. Own a 230 Honda, wife has a TT125 and we both enjoy our 400 MAX. Live one mile from the trailhead and it irks me to no end, we have to trailer everything but the Honda, its street legal, more expense.
Facing us in a big way is this "Healthy Forest Initiative". We have not seen but the very beginning of this yet. You had best get yourself educated on this and "prepare for the worst and hope for the best".
Let me hit on some of this "distant from the truth stuff":
ORV Advisory Board is just that, an Advisory Board. Has no power, zero, is appointed by the DNR. Serves as a means for us as users groups to convey our message to the DNR. Three members are ORV orientated, other four, may not have ever rode an ORV. Some good people on there at the moment, have had one meeting together, not sure how they will jell in the future.
"Fee's going up next year" No, takes an act of legislature! However, has not been an increase in 13 years. IF, significant more trail is put on the ground to meet todays needs, IF
suitable maintenance is provided, IF more access is given to gas, food and lodging and a few more things corrected, we as user groups should support an increase.
FACT, $4.2 million "spend down" was authorized by an act of legislature, signed by the Governor on October 5th and $900,000 was placed in the ORV budget of 06 at the November 9th ORV Board meeting. This just didn't happen, it took action by several folks involved in Lansing. The $4.2 will be spent over the next 5 years, as per the long established formula, 50% for trail maintenance, 31.25 per cent for enforcement, 12.5 per cent for restoration, 3 1/8 per cent for administration and 3 1/8th per cent float.
Remaining out of the 06 budget is $400,000. for trail maintenance, question now is how much will be spent for new signage and how much for additional grooming. There is also about $100,000. in the restoration fund. We can expect the DNR to tell us how these are going to be spent at the next ORV Board meeting.
HB 5343: Anyone who read that Bill and understood all they read, would soon realize, it was a piece of "undersireable legislation". We can and will, do far better than that when its all over. Hope you all realize, some who post on here, are not telling it exactly like it is. Was any mention made of the cost of widening about 1,000 miles of trail to 60" and who was going to do it? What would the after affects be? Speed, safety, erosion and a host of others. There is a better way of accomplishing this same objective.
MMRC: Woody described it pretty close, we all need to work together! We have strengh in numbers. That is the purpose of MMRC. MMRC is compiled from ORV user groups. We do have "friends" in other well publicly recognized organizations and we do work with them quite nicely. We are quite selective in who is involved, we need people who are assetts, not liabilitys. The most important thing here is "WE", not what is in it for me. Its "WE", what is good for 2 wheeled, 4 wheeled and 6 wheeled. We all enjoy doing what we do and there should more and better opportunity for everyone! The thoughts expressed in this group, are collective from many groups, not an individual.
GAINS: I will lay down some the gains of the past 12 months against anyone. Certainly, I or WE could not have made all these gains. It was the involvement of many, many folks, giving up a lot of hours, going through a great deal of agony and sacrifice to thier familys. Yes, including some members of the DNR staff!
A promise of 25% more trail on the ground by 2008. DNR must submit a plan to legislature by May 1st of o6.
The $4.2 million in "reserve funds" spent down by 2008. First $900,000. included in the 06 budget.
ORV Safety Training program tically changed. Not complete yet, but some recommendations have been made, including "hands on" option, was excluded from Safety Training fund. First $35. comes from the fund. Classroom only training, $20. from Safety Fund paralells other Michigan programs for hunter safety, snomobile, and watercraft. Not the most desireable, but something that gives the basics, over 4,000 kids took this program in 05. Much higher participation than ever before. Odds are, this program will be depleted of funds in a year or two. Wonderfull, thats what we want, kids getting some sort of training! More work is to be done in the Task Force, including classroom material and in the area of instructor qualifications.
Bear in mind, in 05, we had the classroom only program being offered only by badge and gun people, some added on additional fees. In 05, no club, organization or private party could get any monies from the fund, no matter what thier level of skills to train. This will be changed for 07, we have asked for an academy, we will be reviewing all instructional materials. This was not given to us, we fought for it very hard, have probably ended up with the best working relationship with the DNR on this issue, than ever has existed!
There were others, speed limits on trails, you won't see them unless its a serious local problem.
Opening of some new trail in various places, one 100 mile streach in the U.P., some smaller ones in the lower.
We have many serious problems ahead, implementation of the new methods of ORV Safety and getting instructors and the public informed on availability.
We have to deal with the final outcome of the Draft Plan, are we going to support it or become highly organized and speaks our dislikes. Only 315 responded to the original out of 180,000 users. Probably 50 of those 315 responses were from environmental people.
Looks as if, we could be facing even more trail closure because of the "Healthy Forest Initiative". Time to sell out, no way. We will win in the end. We have too many "friends" in high places. Our money spent talks quite well when we talk about how much we spend in these communitys.
We need far more people getting involved. In less than 12 months, we have an election for township, county and state governments. Best thing for you to do, is get aquainted with those running, ask them thier positon on ORV use! Actively support the good guys. Spend less time with the "trash talk" on the P.C., do something productive! The easiest thing to do in the world is to tell what is wrong, the hardest things is to have a solution that is accepted by the majority. Next thing is to get it implemented at an affordable cost.
I am willing to answer any question you may post, if I do not have the answer, I will try and get it. My schedule is very busy, in the past 12 months, I participated in over 55 meetings that were ORV related, drove over 7,000 miles. Each meeting takes both preparation and some follow up. So bear with me please, if I do not get back right away. However, I am not the least interested of having an endless daily or weekly dialog with any one individual. Again, far better things to do for the benefit of the entire sport.
Irregardless of what some might say, we are making some good progress, but your involvement is critical. Some say I am crazy for going this route, we will see Obviously, there is no way to completely satisfy 180,000 users spending 4,000,000 rider days annually. But we can always make it the goal, to have far more happy, than sad!
Meantime, ride safe, stay on the trail and enjoy your time spent ORVing