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E-M:/ DNR Retains Director*s Order on Snowmobile Trail Between Gaylord and Cheboygan

Enviro-Mich message from "Richard Morscheck" <morscher@michigan.gov>

CONTACT: Mary Dettloff, 517-335-3014

DNR Retains Director's Order on Snowmobile Trail
Between Gaylord and Cheboygan

Department of Natural Resources Director Rebecca Humphries today authorized the department to seek permanent easement agreements on portions of a trail between Mackinaw City and Alanson in northern Lower Michigan, but did not recommend the designation of a snowmobile trail that would connect Gaylord and Cheboygan. The action came at today's Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.

Three options had been presented for a trail from Gaylord to Cheboygan. Two options were not recommended because of implications regarding natural river designations and the Pigeon River State Forest as documented by DNR field staff. A third option, to rescind a land use order on a Rails-to-Trails rail corridor along the west shore of Mullett Lake in Cheboygan County, also was not recommended by Humphries because of the DNR's commitment to not allow motorized traffic on the rail corridor.

"The DNR understands the economic significance of snowmobiling to Michigan tourism, especially in northern Michigan," Humphries said. "We want to be a good partner and help provide a great snowmobile riding experience, but we need to strike a balance with protecting our natural resources."

The DNR initiated purchase of the rail corridor in 1998 with funds from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund with the condition that no motorized use of the corridor would be authorized, which was re-affirmed with a land use order signed by the DNR in 1998. Director Humphries said there were several concerns regarding use of the rail corridor for snowmobile traffic, mostly related to safety. The trail passes within close proximity of several residences and crosses over many driveways.

"None of the options presented were a good fit for a snowmobile trail," Humphries said. "Two of the options would have had negative impact on natural resources and ecologically fragile areas, while the third would have had a negative impact on citizens who live close to the proposed trail. The NRC did, however, make it clear the department should continue to pursue an alternative trail."

Humphries did recommend that a gate that blocks access to snowmobiles under an overpass on I-75 near Indian River be moved to allow snowmobiles more access to the area all the way to Grandview Beach Road. She also recommended that the department purchase easements that are currently temporary in places along the snowmobile trail between Mackinaw City and Alanson. 

Humphries said the DNR will move forward with the design process for the Mullett Lake trail for non-motorized use and seek partnerships with local organizations to help care for the trail.

The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.


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