The Michigan DNR stutters yet again. Last month they announced that sixteen trails in northern Michigan would not be groomed. And not only would they not do the work, volunteer groups would not be allowed to do the work since the DNR did not have the money to properly supervise them.
The latest word from Lansing is that if legislators approve a supplemental budget bill the trails will be groomed through mid-January. The bill provides general fund support for the State Forest Recreation Program. When the supplemental bill runs out, so will the money again, and we'll all be wondering where to ski next week yet again.
One of the strangest sagas comes from the Black Mountain Ski Trail near Cheboygan, Michigan. A volunteer group is being allowed to groom seven miles of trail, but not to clear debris from the remaining twenty miles in the system. The DNR cited dangerous deadfalls, union contracts, and lack of proper training to allow volunteers to do the work. The volunteers, the Thunder Bay Trail Association, countered with an offer from a professional forester to do the tree removal for free. The group has received no response from the DNR.
At Black Mountain the parking lot will not be plowed and users will need to ski in from a nearby restaurant. Yet the annual Black Mountain Classic ski race is still scheduled for March 1. The DNR says they will have the trail open by that date. A skeptical volunteer has asked,"Can you imagine not being able to groom the trails all year and then trying to get them ready in that short a time?"
see "State officials reach deal on ski trail grooming", MLive.com, Dec 14, 2007
see "DNR limits local trail groomers", Cheboygan Daily Tribune, Dec 14, 2007
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