5/4/05 Draft VI
mile basis as the travel costs of maintenance grant recipients would be greatly reduced as would the logistics of moving materials (e.g. signs, posts, etc.) if a single maintenance grant sponsor was used. Also, a single trailhead could serve both trails, reducing total trailhead maintenance costs.
Better publicize existing ORV scramble areas and provide at least one new area. At the public information meetings, some ORV licensees, especially those with large 4 wheel drive vehicles, expressed a lack of knowledge of major scramble areas (e.g. St. Helen’s) and concern that those they knew of (e.g. Silver Lake) were too crowded. A new area should include opportunities for large four-wheel drive vehicles and be linked by the ORV route system to provide legal access for all DNR licensed ORVs to local goods and services. The St. Helen’s Motorsport Area development plan, which has yet to be fully implemented, would provide this important area more recognition and better meet the needs of large 4 wheel drive riders. The DNR should consider currently compromised sites on state forest and other public lands. Finally, the DNR should consider locating a new ORV area in southern Michigan. This had strong public support and was a major goal of the 1979 ORV plan and the 1991-1996 SCORP that was not realized.
In this expansion of riding activity, the DNR needs to have partner land managers. This includes the USDA Forest Service, local government and major corporate landowners such as forest products companies and utilities. It is unreasonable to expect all expansion to occur on state forest lands. This is especially true of a potential scramble area in southern Michigan.
Fiscal implications are significant. Forest managers, guided by the DNR’s mission, should work with ORV interests in locating new trail/route/areas. This will provide a larger system to maintain. Fortunately, with 65,000 more ORV licenses sold annually in 2003 than in 1998, users have provided additional funds that may be used for this expansion and its maintenance. This targeted expansion, coupled with a focus on bringing the 26% of the system that is in sub-standard condition up to standard, will provide a system that is better sited, meets the needs of ORV licensees and better safeguards the environment. As noted in the 2004 system assessment (Tables 9-10), re-routes, boardwalks, improved brushing and signage are key needs to bring the system up to standard. In turn, this should decrease ORV damage restoration costs on public lands, as there will be an appropriate, designated system for trail riders. In addition, this should boost tourism, generate additional Michigan sales tax revenue and provide the basis for continued user pay support of Michigan ORV programs.
Signage (travel management and regulatory) on the trail/route system should follow national signing standards for motorized trails used by the USDA