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5/4/05 Draft VI

The first statutory regulation of ORVs in Michigan was through Public Act 319 of 1975. It mandated Michigan’s first ORV plan, with a principal outcome to be development of a comprehensive system of ORV trails, routes and areas. It also provided for the registration of ORVs with the State of Michigan, with registration money going to the general fund with the understanding some portion would be appropriated to ORV related programs. The law also mandated a study to assess the amount of state gasoline sales tax generated by ORV use with the suggestion that these tax dollars would be an appropriate source of ORV program funding. There was no restricted fund established for ORV programs.

1979 ORV Plan In developing this plan, the following management objectives identified:

  • (a)

    Protect natural resources and ecosystems

  • (b)

    Separate conflicting uses

  • (c)

    Promote user safety

  • (d)

    Within the above constraints, provide optimum opportunity for recreation on state-owned lands by ORV users

  • (e)

    Encourage and assist to the extent possible development of ORV facilities by local government and the private sector

  • (f)

    Continue reevaluation of ORV needs, programs and planning on a systematic basis

The first four objectives (a-d) above, constitute a clear enunciation of the DNR’s core mission to conserve, protect and provide for public use and enjoyment Michigan’s natural resources for present and future generations. Objective (e) acknowledges the need of the DNR for partners in managing ORVs and (f) anticipates the dynamic nature of ORV management.

In substance, the 1979 plan focuses ORV use on state forest lands and thus away from state parks and state wildlife areas. It also acknowledges the importance of ORV opportunities provided by other agencies, in particular the US Forest Service in the northern 2/3 of Michigan and local units of government in the southern Lower Peninsula. For state forests, it recommends the closure of all state forest lands to ORV use except for forest roads and designated trails, routes and areas to minimize social conflict and protect environmental integrity. It notes that there is significant demand for ORV use in southern Lower Michigan, where there are no state forest lands and relatively little public land. To meet some of this demand it encourages DNR assistance (financial and technical) for local units of government, non-profit organizations and the private sector to develop ORV areas in the southern third of Michigan.

In addition the plan provided:

(a) An inventory of all areas, forest roads, and forest trails suitable for ORV use and criteria to evaluate that suitability (b) The trail proposal procedure to designate ORV facilities

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