Monday, October 31, 2011

Three Equestrian Campsites to Open in Pigeon River SF

horseback riders
photo from Backcountry Horsemen

based on an article in the Grand Rapids Press

When 15 equestrian campsites in the Pigeon River State Forest were closed three years ago, horseback riders were not pleased. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service stated that the move was necessary because the land had been purchased with fish and game monies, and those needs had to be given priority.

Now, three of the sites are being reopened. These are located on property which was not bought with fish and wildlife funds. They are also sites with no facilities. They simply provide legal places to cam, but have no electricity, water, or bathroom facilities. These sites were opened as a result of the Right to Ride Legislation which was enacted last year, and forced the DNR to develop recommendations for equestrian access.

The only site in the Pigeon River State Forest which had remained open to horse use was the Elk Hill Campsite. The number of sites is now raised to four, total. The reopened sites are near Cheboygan County’s Lost Lake along the northern border of the state forest, near Oxbow Creek Road in southeast Cheboygan County, and off of East Sturgeon Valley Road south of the Elk Hill Campground in Otsego County.

Equestrians are expected to be glad for the shift, but to be less than happy about the small provision for their recreation desires.

See Preserving Our Equine Heritage
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Generation X Gets Outside

bicyclists in Dayton
bicyclists in Dayton, Ohio (photo by jhy)

from a report, the Longitudinal Study of American Youth

Do those 84 million Americans born between 1961 and 1981 do much of anything productive? Do they appreciate outdoor recreation? A new study from the University of Michigan, by Jon Miller, says they do. He analyzed the activities of 4000 people considered to belong to Generation X. "Generation X is the first generation to grow up in the Internet Era, and it is perhaps the most extensively wired (and now wireless) generation in American history." So it might be expected that they would not value natural settings or outdoor pursuits.

However, the study found that:
• 74% of young adults reported doing at least one nature hike in the preceding year and 54% reported three or more nature hikes,
• 65% reported going swimming or scuba diving at least once in the preceding year and 56% reported swimming or scuba diving three or more times,
• 41% reporting boating or sailing at least once in the last year and 23% reported three or more boating or sailing outings,
• 35% reported going hunting or fishing during the preceding year and 24% reported going hunting or fishing three of more times during the preceding year,
• 20% reported engaging in bird watching at least once in the preceding year and 11% reported bird watching three or more times in the preceding year,
• 13% reported skiing or snowboarding at least once in the preceding year and fi ve percent reported doing it three or more times, and
• 12% reported that they had engaged in mountain climbing at least once in the previous year and five percent indicated that they had climbed a mountain three or more
times in the preceding year.

Only 13% reported not participating in any kind of outdoor activities.

The primary focus of the study was on work and social habits, and the conclusion is that Generation X has turned into fine adults, who are competent to run the world for the next 20 years or so.

See Longitudinal Study of American Youth (a pdf)
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Michigan's Recreation Passport After One Year

alt text
"P" on license plate tabs (photo by jhy)

from a news release of Michigan DNR

The Department of Natural Resources announced on Oct 20 that the participation goal for the first year of the Recreation Passport was met and exceeded by Michigan citizens. The Recreation Passport, an optional $10 fee that can be paid at the time of motor vehicle renewal, is the new funding model for Michigan state parks and state forest recreation programs.

In 2011, the program's first year, the DNR set a goal of 24.3 percent participation by Michigan motorists. Final tallies for the first year show that the goal was met and exceeded, with 24.7 percent of Michigan motorists checking "Yes" to support the Recreation Passport when renewing their motor vehicle registration. In total, the revenue generated by the sale of the Recreation Passport was $18,816,500.

The DNR has set a participation rate goal of 30 percent for 2012. The price for the Recreation Passport in 2012 remains unchanged at $10.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson added, "We are very pleased to partner with the DNR in promoting our state parks and helping to preserve them for future generations." Johnson kayaks, sails and camps with her family at state parks across Michigan. "We have such an exceptional park system that truly contributes to our quality of life."

The funds raised in the first year of sales for the Recreation Passport are split according to a formula in the law that created the program. The Secretary of State's Office is reimbursed $1 million for administrative costs, and the state parks operational budget ($10.7 million) and the Michigan Water Ways budget ($1.03 million) each get an amount equivalent to the revenue that the former Motor Vehicle Permit (window sticker) system brought in averaged over the last three years. After that revenue is deducted, the remaining revenue for 2011 was divided as follows:

State Parks - Capital Outlay (50 percent): $3,043,250
State Parks - Maintenance (30 percent): $1,825,950
Local Park Grants (10 percent): $608,650
State Forest Recreation (7 percent): $426,055
Cultural/Historical Facilities in State Parks (2.75 percent): $167,379
Marketing (0.25 percent): $15,216

"Even if you think you will never go to a state park or enjoy one of our state forest campgrounds or trails, supporting the Recreation Passport is a good way to support your county, community or township parks, "DNR Director Rodney Stokes said. "Ten percent of the revenue is dedicated to a grant program to help improve parks in local communities."

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

based on news from MSNBC

A Chassel, Michigan man, John Wallace, was mauled to death in Yellowstone Park in August. The bear was euthanized on October 3 because it has been linked to another bear fatality in July of this year.

Yellowstone officials say that the July attack was explainable, because the bear- a mother with cubs- was surprised by hikers, who ran when the bear confronted them. However, with the same bear being linked by DNA to the August attack, the decision was made to eliminate that bear.

There is about one bear injury for every 3 million human visits to Yellowstone Park, which means there is an incident about once a year. However there were none in 2010.

Visitors from the east, who are used to black bears, would do well to study up on the differences in how you should respond to grizzlies. In either case, running is the worst possible choice because it provokes the bear's chase response.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Isabella County Regional Non-Motorized Plan

Dayton bike trail
urban bike trail (photo by jhy)

based on a news article in the Central Michigan Morning Sun

Norm Cox of the Greenway Cooperative has recently issued a report saying that the "best way to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety is to increase the number of pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Isabella County, Union Township in particular, has hired Cox as consultant to develop a non-motorized pathway plan for the region. Central Michigan University, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the city of Mt. Pleasant are cooperating in the project.

Cox’s firm is the consultant hired by Union Township, in cooperation with the city of Mt. Pleasant, Isabella County, Central Michigan University and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe to develop a non-motorized pathway plan for the area.

The plans are being made without regard to the political boundaries. This ability to create a region-wide plan may give the county a head start on creating a model system of pathways. Cox says this is unique in the state and that it will help with funding.

The plan calls for tying together existing bicycle routes, such as those on the CMU campus and in the city’s riverfront parks, with bike routes on or close to main roads, marked neighborhood collector routes, and wayfaring signs.

For walkers, it calls for construction of wide sidewalks in developing areas, and more crossing islands on busy streets. He said those make crossing streets such as Mission Street safer, as well as slowing traffic.

The recommendations include turning some four-lane roads into three-lanes, transforming the extra lane for bicyclists. Although this is likely to be controversial, Cox says that it makes the overall route safer because drivers become aware of bicyclists and pedestrians.

Perhaps the most controversial of Cox’s expected recommendation is to turn some four-lane roads, such as Isabella, into three-lane roads with wide, striped-off shoulders usable for bike lanes.

Long-range plans include connecting with the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, which ends in Alma, and the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, which runs through Clare, with a trail through Isabella County.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Crockery Township Rescue patch

based on a news article at

Crockery Township (Ottawa County) Fire Chief, Gary Dreyer, reported that a hiker was rescued on Monday, September 26. The man, in his 40's, had been hiking in the Crockery Creek Natural Area. He apparently fell and hit his head on a log. The hiker and a friend were following a deer trail into a ravine. One man stepped on a rotting log and lost his footing, falling on another log.

Fortunately the friend was able to call 911. Although the Natural Area is not far from "civilization," the shortest route to reach the injured hiker was through heavy brush. Dreyer described the extraction as "labor intensive." He also cited recent rains as creating difficult and slippery conditions.

It was impossible to get an ATV to the scene, so the man was carried out on a stretcher, the old-fashioned way. The injured man was taken to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids to be checked out, but was conscious and alert by that time.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

National Forests Create Strong Economic Impact

fly fishing Pere Marquette River
fishing the Pere Marquette River (photo by jhy)

a news release of the USDA National Forests

Recreational activities on national forests and grasslands continue to make large economic impacts on America's rural communities, contributing $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

According to the National Visitor Use Monitoring report released tin August 2011 by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, national forests attracted 170.8 million recreational visitors and sustained approximately 223,000 jobs in rural communities this past year.

"This data shows once again just what a boon our forests are to local economies," said Tidwell. "Because of forest activities, thousands of jobs are supported in hundreds of rural communities. We are proud of helping to put a paycheck into the pockets of so many hardworking Americans."

National forests also provide economic relief for vacationers. Fewer than half of the U.S. Forest Service's 17,000 developed sites charge any fees for visitors. The report reveals that 94 percent of visitors were satisfied with their experience on the national forests.

"Our national forests are some of the most beautiful and adventure-filled places in the world," said Tidwell. "The national forests give Americans a chance to build life-long memories for the price of food and gas. You'd be hard pressed to find any vacation destinations that offer better value."

Western Michigan is the location of the Manistee unit of the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

See National Forest Service
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