Save access to Michigan’s Roads and Trails

10/24/21 – Thousands of miles of County roads, forest roads, ATV Routes, ATV Trails and even motorcycle-only trails set to be closed from Dec 1 through April 1 in Michigan. Hundreds of thousands of acres of public land will no longer be accessible to property owners, hunters and recreational users due to closure of sections of access roads that are also snowmobile trails.

Legislation has passed the House and now needs to pass the Senate. House Bill 4535 (was supported and driven by the Michigan Snowmobile Association which later changed to the Michigan Snowmobile and ORV Association, MISORVA).

This legislation is opposed by Wheeled Vehicle organizations such as the Cycle Conservation Club of MI, Great Lakes Dual Sporters and the Great Lakes Four Wheel Drive Association.

Contact your senator NOW and tell them not to support any legislation that seeks to limit your public access by restricting usage of roads that are also shared with snowmobile trails. Tell them not to support HB 4535 and any senate version of that bill.

Find your Senator: https://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysbyaddress.html

While the legislation has already passed the House, PLEASE contact your Representative to ensure they hear your voice as there is still opportunity to stop this.

Find your Representative: https://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/frmFindaRep.aspx

The legislation states that any snowmobile trail that is snow covered and groomed will now be closed to motorized vehicles except a snowmobile. That specifically includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, Semis and even battery assisted fat tire bicycles.

If you are not a Michigan resident, you can still contact the committee members this legislation has to pass through:

Quoting the legislation:


During the period from December 1 through March 31 annually, a person shall not operate a motor vehicle other than a snowmobile on a trail if both of the following apply:
(a) The trail is part of the statewide trail network established under section 72114 and is designated for snowmobile use.
(b) The trail is snow covered, and the snow is groomed for snowmobile use.

Most snowmobile trails are existing roads. Those roads are public county-owned or public forest roads on public land. The snowmobile trails are allowed to share those roads during the winter.

Those roads are used by hunters, residents, and property owners for access, in addition to recreational use. That includes roads that are not snowmobile trails, but the only way to access an area or road is using another road that is a shared snowmobile trail.

Many of those roads are also shared by ORV Trails:

  • To connect across a stream or other wet area.
  • To connect public land separated by private land.
  • To reach services such as food and fuel.
  • To access parking lots.

Anywhere that the ORV Trail shares a road that the snowmobile trail also shares, that section of ORV Trail will now be closed. This effectively closes the entire ORV Trail.

Any ORV Routes that are also shared with snowmobile trails will now be closed for 1/3 of the year.

The legislation presents much uncertainty and doubt for a wheeled vehicle user.

No definition of “snow covered” is provided. Does it mean no bare sections of dirt showing anywhere? What about when the snow is compacted to effectively be ice, is “ice” considered to be “snow covered”. How thick and uniform does it have to be. Should one assume that if there is ANY snow ANYWHERE on the road, that it is considered “snow covered”. If there’s a warm day and certain spots melt to expose dirt for 80% of the road width, does that constitute “snow covered”.

Would either of these situations constitute “snow covered”:

No definition of “Groomed” is provided. The dictionary.com definition of groom as a verb:
“to clean, brush, and otherwise tend (a horse, dog, etc.).”
Does “groomed” only apply to when an implement is used to smooth and compact the snow on the road surface?
Most of the public do not know if a “groomer” is a person or thing and would have no idea if that “groomer” has performed any “grooming”.
No signage or reporting requirements of groomers has been established to notify the public if a “snowmobile trail” has been “groomed”.
Does “groomed” mean once in the last 24 hours or once in the last 90 days?

Here’s a snowmobile trail groomer in action:

Are any of these trails “groomed” (answer is no, they had not been during that season):

A few real-world examples of the indirect impact:

  • UTV riders will no longer be able to park in St Helen, access the Motorsports Area nor travel to Leota.
  • Hunters will no longer have access to the popular Avery Hills area east of Lewiston due to interconnecting “snowmobile trails”. See Map for the Avery Hills Area.
  • Hunters and property owners will no longer be able to access over 20,000 acres of State Land between the Fox River and Highway 77, north of Seney as the only public access road is also a snowmobile trail. See map for the Sunken Lake area.

There are 108 designated ORV Trails and Routes that will be directly impacted by this legislation and will be closed. Not because the entire trail is also a snowmobile trail, but because there are shared sections of trail/road/snowmobile trail or the roads leading to or from the parking area are shared snowmobile trails.

That’s over 4000 miles of ORV Trails and Routes closed, not because they are shared with 4000 miles of snowmobile trails, but because they share a section of a road that has allowed a snowmobile trail to be designated upon it.

Maps detailing the issue at hand for just a couple of the hundreds of examples: Geels ORV Trail, Grand Traverse Motorcycle Trail, West Higgins ORV Trail.

List of State Designated ORV Trails and Routes closed due to this legislation:

Motorcycle Only Trail:

  • Bass Lake Cycle Trail
  • Beaver Creek Cycle Trail
  • Big O Cycle Trail
  • Birch Hills Cycle Trail
  • Brevort Cycle Trail
  • Foreman Lake Cycle Trail
  • Grand Traverse Cycle Trail
  • Holton Cycle Trail
  • Hunt Creek Cycle Trail
  • Kinross Cycle Trail
  • Lincoln Hills Cycle Trail
  • Little Manistee Cycle Trail
  • Long Lake Cycle Trail
  • Michigan Cross Country Cycle Trail
  • Moss Lake Cycle Trail
  • Newberry-Brevort Cycle Trail
  • Newberry-Sandtown Cycle Trail
  • North Missaukee Cycle Trail
  • Porterfield Cycle Trail
  • Sandtown Cycle Trail
  • Tin Cup Cycle Trail
  • Tomahawk Cycle Trail

ORV Trail (50″):

  • Alcona ORV Trail
  • Atlanata ORV Trail
  • Baraga Plains ORV Trail
  • Bay City Lake ORV Trail
  • Big Bear ORV Trail
  • Black Lake ORV Trail
  • Bull Gap ORV Trail
  • Bummers Roost ORV Trail
  • Cedar Creek ORV Trail
  • Cranberrry Lake ORV Trail
  • Crapo Creek ORV Trail
  • Danaher Plains ORV Trail
  • Denton ORV Trail
  • Drummond Island ORV Trail
  • Forest Islands ORV Trail
  • Frederic ORV Trail
  • Geels – St Helen ORV Trail
  • Geels ORV Trail
  • Huron ORV Trail
  • Kalkaska ORV Trail
  • Leota ORV Trail
  • Little O ORV Trail
  • Meadows ORV Trail
  • Mio ORV Trail
  • North Missaukee ORV Trail
  • Norway ORV Trail
  • Ogemaw Hills ORV Trail
  • Old State House ORV Trail
  • Pine Ridge ORV Trail
  • Rose City ORV Trail
  • Silver Creek ORV Trail
  • St Helen ORV Trail
  • Tomahawk ORV Trail
  • Two Hearted ORV Trail
  • West Higgins ORV Trail
  • White Cloud ORV Trail

ORV Route:

  • Hermansville-Escanaba ORV Route
  • Marquette-Manistique Trail
  • Pioneer Trail ORV Route
  • Republic-Ishpeming ORV Route
  • Soo-Raco ORV Route
  • Keweenaw ORV Route
  • A-D ORV Route
  • Atlanta ORV Route
  • Beaver Creek ORV Route
  • Bill Nichols ORV Route
  • Black Lake ORV Route
  • Champion-Republic ORV Route
  • Days River ORV Route
  • Denton ORV Route
  • Denton-St Helen ORV Route
  • Drummond Island ORV Route
  • Felch Grade ORV Route
  • Forest Islands ORV Route
  • Four Mile ORV Route
  • Freda Grade ORV Route
  • Frederic ORV Route
  • Grand Traverse ORV Route
  • Gwinn – Arnold ORV Route
  • Hancock-Calumet ORV Route
  • Hiawatha East ORV Route
  • Indian Gardens ORV Route
  • Indian River ORV Route
  • Iron River ORV Route
  • Iron Mountain–Felch ORV Route
  • Lake Linden ORV Route
  • Leota ORV Route
  • Lincoln Hills ORV Route
  • Little Manistee ORV Route
  • Marquette-Manistique Route
  • Mio ORV Route
  • North Branch ORV Route
  • North Missaukee ORV Route
  • Norway ORV Route
  • Ogemaw Hills ORV Route
  • Old State House ORV Route
  • Ottawa East ORV Route
  • Powers-Arnold ORV Route
  • Roscommon ORV Route
  • Sidnaw-Bergland ORV Route
  • St Helen ORV Route
  • St Ignace-Trout Lake ORV Route
  • State Line ORV Route
  • Strongs – Raco ORV Route
  • Tin Cup ORV Route
  • West Higgins ORV Route
  • Wisconsin-Bond Falls ORV Route

We are not advocating for wheeled vehicle use upon groomed snowmobile trails. We are advocating against closures of our Roads, Trails and Routes that are paid for and maintained by our ORV Program Registration dollars and our tax dollars. Divisive legislation such as this, whether well intentioned or malicious, is bad for all of us.

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