5/4/05 Draft VI
Fiscal implications are significant. However, it is imperative to manage the designated system to meet the DNR’s mission of resource conservation and protection, meeting outdoor recreation needs and safeguarding riders. It is also a priority to bring the existing system up to standard
Develop additional cycle and ATV trail, ORV route and ORV area that can be maintained to standard to meet increasing user demand.
Rationale is the 64% growth in ORV licenses from 104,745 in 1998 to 171,748 in 2003, while the designated system has been relatively static in size.
Increased proportion (27% vs.21%) of annual ORV uses (4.2 million 1998-99 vs. 4.1 million 1987-88) is on the designated system (Nelson 1989; Nelson et al. 2000).
29% of all ORV licensees use one or more of the existing scramble areas (Nelson et al. 2000), of which some areas are not accessible to full size vehicles.
Technology/industry has created new ORV platforms (e.g. 54 and 56” wide vehicles) which have a limited number of public places to legally ride in the Lower Peninsula and are not street legal.
Additional designated riding opportunities to meet the needs of the range of ORV licensees was the most common request expressed at 2004 ORV plan update public information meetings as well as in previous statewide ORV user surveys (Nelson 1989; Nelson et al. 2000).
Actions to expand the designated ORV system while limiting social and environmental impacts and containing development and maintenance costs:
Expand the route system using existing forest roads in the NLP and UP by making routes both connectors between ORV trail loops and creating connected, destination loop and point-to- point routes to support leisurely, longer distance ORV route travel. This would benefit traditional, more technical trail riders through connecting existing trails by DNR licensed legal ORV routes. It would also benefit family/senior/tourist riders seeking a more relaxed experience. In addition, it would provide a place for larger ATVs (e.g. Kawasaki Mule, etc.), which have no trail opportunities (too wide for cycle or ATV trails) other than the current route system, which now is primarily focused on connecting cycle and ATV trails. This approach has strong support from the tourism industry and the riding public as expressed at the 2004 public information meetings.
Expand the cycle and ATV trail system by locating additional trails parallel to current trails within the same corridor of influence where feasible. For example, a new ATV trail could be located in the same corridor of influence (e.g. 100 foot wide corridor) as an existing cycle trail. This could limit environmental and social impacts to current ORV system corridors of influence and make maintenance operations more efficient on a per corridor