We need your help, Ft. Custer, Pontiac Lake and potentially every state forest pathway is vulnerable under this new bill.
On March 20, the House Natural Resources Committee voted in favor of House Bill 4684. As originally introduced, this bill would have removed the ability of the DNR to properly manage trail systems on state lands and jeopardized millions of dollars in federal funds.
Fortunately, the bill has been significantly amended since then, and a potential loss of federal funds is much less likely. However, there are still significant problems with the bill, and therefore the MMBA remains in opposition.
Specifically, the bill is a problem in its current form for two reasons. 1) It contains a definition that elevates equestrians above all other user groups. This definition is as follows: "Pack and saddle trailways" means TRAILS and equine access locations that CURRENTLY ARE OR AT ANY TIME PREVIOUSLY WERE used by pack and saddle animals.
2) The bill would prevent the DNR Director from being the final decision-maker on trail usage. Instead, it shifts this responsibility to the Michigan Snowmobile and Trails Advisory Council – a body that is not designed for such a task.
We are working on an amendment that would clarify that the DNR Director would continue to have the authority to restrict and segregate trail access by user group, provided that it was done in a manner which was fair and equitable for all user groups. Should this amendment be adopted, the MMBA would drop its opposition to the legislation.
Please call your State Representative and let them know that you are opposed to HB 4684 because it will make it more difficult for the DNR to resolve local disputes between various types of trail user groups. The bill as written has the potential to create chaos by giving all trail users equal access to nearly all trails. While this may sound fair in principle, the fact is that without the DNR’s ability to be a “traffic cop” on state lands, the result will be greater problems on Michigan’s trailways.
You can find out how to contact your State Representative by going to this link:http://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/
Your phone calls and emails will be critical for stopping this bill that can our trails hostage to one single user group.
Your fellow riders thank you for your support!