5/4/05 Draft VI
Riders, Ogemaw Hills Snowmobile Club, Sportsman’s ORV Association and the Drummond Island Off-Road Club.
Environmental Damage Restoration Participants noted there was a need for a systematic approach to identify ORV damage to public lands. The current operations inventory (OI) on state forest lands is often ineffective in identifying damage as ORV damage recognition has not been an inventory priority and much of the work is done during months of snow cover, making erosion difficult to detect. However, even though there is not a current systematic effort to identify ORV damage, the damage appears to be widespread in the northern Lower Peninsula. It was recommended that a systematic effort be initiated to identify ORV damage on public lands.
There was significant support for the current DNR priorities in restoring ORV damage:
reduce or eliminate erosion into any body of water
restore damage in any designated roadless area, state natural river corridor
or federal wild and scenic river corridor restore damage to aesthetically sensitive areas
Concern was expressed about the complexity (“red tape”) in getting funding, such as providing engineering specifications for barriers to access that could be fashioned from natural materials such as slash and stumps generated during a timber sale. It was discussed that the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service provides useful guidelines that private landowners successfully use across the nation (and in Michigan) to plant grasses in filter strips near waterways or on erodible slopes.
Finally, it was noted that there were few restoration efforts underway and that more were needed. It was suggested that additional restoration cooperators could be recruited from the ranks of habitat related organizations with professional expertise such as Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited, as well as from county conservation districts and Resource Conservation and Development Area Councils.
Trail Maintenance Some participants expressed concern about their ability to maintain the portions of the designated system they are committed to at existing rates of reimbursement. Some noted they needed funds to hire manual labor and that the current rates of reimbursement for ORV trail and ORV route maintenance were insufficient. They also noted that ORV use of the designated system was increasing and this was resulting in additional maintenance expense, as well as the need for additional grading and trail rerouting.
Concerning signage, they strongly supported the DNR creation of sign plans for individual trails. They were specifically concerned that without such trail-by-trail sign plans they are exposed to greater liability when they interpret systemwide standards (IC 1991 “DNR ORV Trail and Route Maintenance Handbook”) than they would be if they were following trail specific sign plans. Grant recipients want their role to be one of