We wanted to be sure to share an update from Skip Schulz, Mi-TRALE President/Founder and current President of the Upper Peninsula ORV Trail Development Association, regarding goings on in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan that we thought you should all read..
I want to keep all of you informed as to what the Upper Peninsula ORV Trail Development Association has been doing. While we are still in our infancy, the Association has been very busy since our 1st General Membership Meeting on April 28th, 2012, in Marquette.
UP ORV TDA officers attended the organizational meeting of Trailrider Enthusiast Alliance of Marquette (TEAM). TEAM has already had 2 EXCELLENT meetings and this new ORV Group is 'off and running.' ALL of us in the UP ORV TDA are proud of TEAM and glad to have TEAM President, Tony Harry on the UP ORV TDA Board.
UP ORV TDA officers also attended a meeting in Iron Mountain. At that meeting was Pat Olson of the Michigan DNR, Chris LaVigne of the Tourism Association of Dickinson County Area (TADCA), Florence County (WI) ATV Club, Northeast Regional Director of the Wisconsin ATV Association, Terry Copplein, members of SORVA of Dickinson County, Al Skurka, Keith Lynch and myself of the UP ORV TDA. The meeting was to find a way to connect trails from both the East and West of Iron Mountain. Right now, everything will come down to the right for ORV's to use 1 of 3 bridges from Wisconsin into Michigan. The UP ORV TDA will continue to work with all these groups and individuals.
I recently had the privilege to attend a Normenco Sportsman Club meeting in Spalding. This is an EXCELLENT group and the UP ORV TDA is proud to have Normenco as a member and Pat Kleikamp on our Board.
I attended a couple meetings and went on an ORV Ride with the new Western UP Trails Association (WUPTA) organization, based out of Ironwood. Last week I attended a meeting at the Coleman Engineering Offices dealing with local and state acquisition of rail grades between Ironwood and Wakefield. This was a very informative meeting of which WUPTA and the UP ORV TDA WILL make sure that area knows how important it is for Tourism to have an ORV Connector Trail from Ironwood to Marenisco. I am also proud to announce that WUPTA is a member of the UP ORV TDA.
SPORT Ride Recap:
Over 200 people attended the June 16th State Park Off Road Trek (SPORT). The SPORT Ride was a culmination of work that began over a year ago in getting a trail and route opened from Baraga State Park to Twin Lakes State Park. What started with a ride amongst volunteers and MDNR Forestry Personal in finding a way to connect two of the three Michigan State Parks opened to ORV's, ended with over 170 people riding ORV's from Baraga State Park to Twin Lakes State Park.
The success of this ride goes out to many people, way to many to mention. However, the one group that needs a special thanks in this update are those that participated! From local riders, to members of Upper Peninsula ORV Trail Development Association Clubs, to members of Wisconsin ATV Association clubs...THANK-YOU.
ALL of us proved that it is GOOD BUSINESS for the Michigan DNR to open State Parks to ORV's, and to make the State Parks accessible to ORV's, we NEED trails, roads, and the passage of HB 5612! Which is my segue into the next topic...
Ron Olson, Michigan DNR Parks and Recreation Chief (which oversees the ORV Program in Michigan), announced during the Ribbon-Cutting ceremony that the MiDNR's Administrative Rule dealing with "events," has been changed. The MiDNR Administrative Rule was that ANY group of 20 or more RIDERS (ORV and Snowmobile) had to go through the timely (and possibly, costly) process of filling out an application, possibly paying for that application, then waiting to see if the application for your group wanting to come to Michigan to SPEND Money, would be approved, and then possibly having to pay additional fee's.
For a number of years I have been pushing the DNR to change this 'event' permit process to that of the US Forest Service...which set 75 riders as the policy. Last year, UP ORV TDA helped lead the effort to get legislation drafted to make it law where groups of 75 or fewer riders would not have to go through this MiDNR Administrative Rule. We were able to get this legislation drafted and entered into the Michigan State House Natural Resources Committee, of which the legislation sits right now.
However, with Mr. Olson's announcement, that legislation is not as important as it was a mere month ago.
We also found that the legislation getting a small percentage of the Michigan State Gas Taxes PAID by the ORV riders put back into the ORV Program cannot be done legislatively, as it would have to go through a Michigan Ballot Referendum to change the Michigan State Constitution. Thus the ORV Program will continue to NOT have ANY of the State Gas Taxes that the ORV Community pays put back into a dedicated ORV Trail Fund.
NOW THE GOOD NEWS...or at least I hope it is still 'good news.' I've been traveling all around the UP, trying to get support for HB 5612. This is the legislation that gives each County Board in Michigan the right to hold a Public Hearing and decide as to which M (State Highways) and Federal Highway Right of Ways, Shoulders, and Bridges would be allowed to have a maintained ORV Trail. However that trail would have to be to connect one trail to another, be used to connect to services (gas, food, lodging, etc) and/or to be used to provide access to a Tourist Attraction. HB 5612 DOES NOT give an ORV Rider simply the right to ride on a State or Federal Highway ROW, Shoulder, or Bridge. HB 5612 simply provides the opportunity for an ORV Organization and/or the DNR to propose a section of a State or Federal Highway ROW, Shoulder, Bridge to have a Safe and Environmentally friendly trail, of which it would first have to go through a Public Hearing, and then be passed by the County Board of Commissioners.
While I am happy to say that this bill has been introduced, and we have received support for the legislation, we're still HOPING that the Natural Resources Committee will MOVE on this bill, hold a Public Hearing, and pass it on to the Full House for a vote. Then we would have to go through this whole process in the State Senate.
Time is our enemy right now in getting HB 5612 passed. I will continue to travel, and do whatever I can to get this legislation passed. We NEED it for us to have an inter-connecting ORV Trail System in the UP!
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BLUERIB - http://www.sharetrails.org.