“Right to Ride” Legislation

Although the Michigan Legislature passed comprehensive trail use legislation in 2010, the horse and pack-animal lobby is pushing hard for another bite at the apple.  Their greatest goal is to enact so-called “Right to Ride” legislation which would guarantee equestrian access to all areas currently used by horse and pack-animals, or that were EVER used by horse and pack-animals.  In its most extreme form, the legislation would seem to allow equestrians to lay claim to new trails just by riding on them. 

Grassroots Communication

Rep. Foster’s office says that they have already received a multitude of emails from mountain bikers on this issue.  This has gone a long way toward making Rep. Foster more sympathetic to the MMBA’s point of view.  Great job!

Now other members of the House Natural Resources Committee need to hear the message as well.  It is most effective when legislators hear from their own constituents, so MMBA members should try to write to their own state representatives and senators about this issue. 

Key Legislators

Members of the House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee are:

Rep. Frank Foster (R-Pellston) frankfoster@house.mi.gov
Rep. Matt Huuki (R-Atlantic Mine) matthuuki@house.mi.gov
Rep. Kurt Damrow (R-Austin) kurtdamrow@house.mi.gov
Rep. Holly Hughes (R-White River Twp.)     hollyhughes@house.mi.gov
Rep. Joel Johnson (R-Clare)   joeljohnson@house.mi.gov
Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) peterpetallia@house.mi.gov
Rep. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City)  wayneschmidt@house.mi.gov
Rep. Harold Haugh (D-Roseville)  haroldhaugh@house.mi.gov
Rep. Tim Bledsoe (D-Gross Pointe)  timbledsoe@house.mi.gov
Rep. Dian Slavens (D-Canton) dianslavens@house.mi.gov
Rep. Maureen Stapleton (D-Detroit) maureenstapleton@house.mi.gov

Message

MMBA members are encouraged to use their own stories and anecdotes when discussing this legislation with their legislator; however, they should try to include one or more of the following talking points:

  • HB 4684 and HB 5175 both unfairly elevate equestrian trail users above all other user groups in terms of statutory protections.  Both bills grant equestrian users trail access and designations that other user groups would not be entitled to.
  • The Legislature just passed comprehensive trail use reform last year and they should let that process move forward before coming up with new legislation.  A major component of that legislation was the establishment of the Michigan Snowmobile and Trails Advisory Council (MSTAC).  The purpose of this committee was to address user group access issues such as those driving these bills.
  • The statewide Snowmobile and Trails Advisory Council – made up of representatives from all trail user groups – would become a meaningless body should HB 4684 pass.
  • The Legislation passed last year created a number of criteria the DNR must meet before it may restrict access to a trail network; it also gives trail users opportunities to contest the restrictions.  Introducing new legislation at this point would void the progress that has been made adhering to these criteria.
  • The DNR should be allowed to continue to manage access to trails for any user groups in the interest of public safety, maintenance, or in furtherance of the state goals for a certain area.  User groups such as the MMBA have established that it is possible to partner with the DNR to gain access to state land for trail systems.