5/4/05 Draft VI
Once designation is complete, the rule would prohibit motor vehicle use off the designated system or inconsistent with the designations.
Designation decisions would be made locally, with public input and in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments.
The final regulations will be published in 2005, to be followed by proposed directives in the Forest Service Handbook and Manual. Ultimately, over the next few years, individual national forest managers will involve the public in designating roads, trails and areas for ORV use. In this designation and subsequent management, the Forest Service is seeking partnerships in planning, maintenance, environmental protection/restoration and enforcement.
These Forest Service actions are important for Michigan ORV use and users. Currently 14% of the designated Michigan trail/route system is on national forest land. Proposed designation of additional components in the Upper Peninsula is likely. Limiting ORV use to designated roads and trails in UP national forests may also influence ORV use on Upper Peninsula state forest roads as connections to national forest roads that were once available may be severed. There may also be confusion among the riding and non-riding public regarding where it is and is not legal to ride a DNR licensed ORV. In the Lower Peninsula, the Huron-Manistee National Forests have already adopted the approach contained in the proposed regulations and significant changes are not anticipated.
ORV Plan Action Steps, Rationale and Fiscal Implications
Based on the data previously presented, public input, DNR input, input from local law enforcement and road commission managers, actions of other states to manage ORVs and the author’s professional judgment, the following recommendations are presented. Each recommendation is grouped under a basic heading, bolded and followed by a brief discussion of rationale and potential fiscal implications.
Upgrade the existing designated ORV system to the point of all trails/routes meeting maintenance standards, thus meeting recreational needs and safeguarding riders and the environment.
Rationale is that the 1997 designated system assessment (Lynch and Nelson 1997) noted that 61% of the system was rated as good (meeting maintenance standards over more than 95% of the trail/route mileage). The 2004 designated system assessment reported that 67% was rated as good and only 2% rated as poor. While this demonstrates progress, a considerable portion of the designated system is not meeting maintenance standards.
Key challenges noted in the 2004 assessment concerning trails not meeting maintenance standards were poor overall maintenance, need for re-routes or boardwalks for wet areas, need for additional brushing, erosion concerns, illegal near trail uses (e.g. hill climbs, spur trails) and inadequate or improper signage and whooped out (corrugated) trail. 53