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Many Michigan forest roads will soon open to off-road vehicles

all terrain vehicle driving on dirt road
CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)
Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, thousands of miles of Michigan state forest roads in the Lower Peninsula will open to off-road vehicles.

forest road through pine and fern
Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Next year forest roads in the Lower Peninsula will be open to off-road vehicles.

Many Michiganders are about to head up north for a long holiday weekend. When they arrive, some travelers will use public land for hiking, biking, horseback riding and driving off-road vehicles or ORVs. Fans of ORVs will soon have a lot more options. Thousands of miles of state forest roads are about to open up to them in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a public act last fall expanding the use of off-road vehicles on state forest land. The act goes into effect in 2018. It also requires that the state map all Michigan trails and will allow hunters to retrieve deer, bear and elk using ORVs and horses.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Kerry Wieber spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about what state roads will be available to ORVs, the environmental impact, and the reactions to the change from the ORV community, hikers, equestrians and others who use the forest roads. 

The public comment period on the plan is open until July 15. To share your thoughts with the DNR, email DNR-RoadInventoryProject@michigan.gov, or write to DNR Roads Inventory Project, P.O. Box 456, Vanderbilt, MI 49795.

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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