Thursday, October 28, 2010

Michigan AG Rules Highways Open to All Modes of Travel

bike lane sign

by JHY

Complete Streets Coalition seeks to promote better planning for highways and streets, so that all users have a good chance of safe passage. Not everyone agrees with the idea of building streets with bicycle and pedestrian lanes included. The concept has been challenged on the basis that these non-motorized uses are not included in "highway purposes."

On October 21, 2010, the Michigan Attorney General's Office handed down a ruling which states that all such uses are, definitely, included in "highway purposes."

The conclusion states, "A pedestrian and bicycle pathway may be established within the right-of-way of a county road built on an easement granted for highway purposes, without first obtaining the consent of each owner of property abutting the highway."

Many historical rulings were referenced in the decision. It was noted that although easement uses must be confined to the purposes for which it was reserved, that all modes of surface transportation, and public communication/ utility transmission have historically been included in those purposes.

When a highway is not restricted in use (such as an Interstate federal highway), it is open to all suitable uses. The Court added that the uses to which highway easements may be put evolve over time, in recognition of technological developments.

This is great news for the future of transportation in Michigan.

See Michigan AG Ruling
See Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch
See Grand Rapids Opens First Complete Street

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

State Forest Facilities Face Yet More Budget Cuts

tenting (photo by JHY)

based on a news article at M-Live

This year, yet again, there is less money to maintain State Forest facilities in Michigan. Another $300,000 has been taken from the forest recreation budget, leaving just $240,000 for maintenance of 133 rustic state forest campgrounds and more than 60 miles of non-motorized trail.

"We’re going to have to go in a different direction," said Lynn Boyd, chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forest, Mineral and Fire Management division.

Trails, including ski trails, will only be maintained where there are contractual agreements, or arrangements with volunteer groups in place. Money from the new recreation Passport program (the voluntary $10 fee associated with license plate purchases) will not begin to trickle down to the agency, for use, until 2012.

As a result of budget cuts, 12 State Forest Campgrounds were closed in 2009. These will remain closed. Half may be turned over to the recreation division of the DNRE for management as mini-state parks.

Only the The VASA Trail in Acme, Ogemaw Hills in West Branch and Blueberry Ridge in Marquette will be groomed for skiing this year, as they are worked under contracts. All other trails will remain open, but unmaintained.

A recent hike at Sheep Ranch Pathway, near Baldwin, bore evidence of the no-maintenance status. Selective logging over the past two years has left portions of the trail in bad shape. The treadway is obliterated. In one day, a handful of volunteers could restore it, but for now, the state has no means to provide the quality of recreational opportunities that it advertises.

See Sheep Ranch Pathway
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Grass Fire at Nordhouse Dunes

alt text
Nordhouse Lake (photo by JHY)

based on a news article in the Ludington Daily News

A small grass fire was contained at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness in Mason County last week. A hiker discovered that an abandoned campfire on the northwest shore of Nordhouse Lake had spread, and began to knock the fire down even while summoning the U.S. Forest Service.

Carol Nilsson, USFS Fire Information Officer, reported that the fire was pretty much under control when crews arrived. The area burned was small, about 0.2 acres. Nordhouse Dunes is a popular federal Wilderness. If a fire would have gotten a hold the area could have been devastated.

Nilsson added that they are seeing fires burn quite deep this fall. The area is rich in peat, and fires tend to burn underground. This allows them to spring up, on the surface, at a distance away from the point of origin. Always douse fires to prevent this from happening, rather than simply breaking them up.

See Nordhouse Dunes
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hudsonville Hiker Dies in New Hampshire

Wilfred Chalut
Wilfred Chalut (photo from obituary notice)

based various news stories, and the obituary

Will Chalut, age 64, of Hudsonville, MI, is described by friends as fun-loving and generous, but he died October 1, in a tragic accident in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Chalut was hiking Friday afternoon in Waterville Valley, along Sabbaday Falls on the Swift River. It was raining, and the trails were slick. He slipped into the river, and was carried out of sight by the current.

Fish and Game Department spokesman, Lt. Jim Goss, reported that they were unable to find the man, but his body was recovered the following day, caught in brush near the middle of the river.

Fox 17 News spoke with Chalut's son who said, "The fact that he was enjoying life to its fullest when he died is the only comfort we have in this moment of profound shock and tragedy."

See Hudsonville Man Dies In New Hampshire
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

Go To for all the news
See Get Off The Couch

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