DNR opens certain State Forest Roads for ORV use

MIDLAND COUNTY (WJRT) - (01/01/18) - Starting Jan. 1, 2018 off-road vehicle users have new places to ride.

Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Act 288 in 2016 paving the way for ORV riders to have more choices.

Since then the Department of Natural Resources has been doing a huge inventory to get the State Forest Roads ready.

I honestly didn't think they'd ever open it back up. Like I said, we used to ride out here as kids, late 70's early 80's since we were born, used to ride out here with my parents," said Kevin Kelbey who lives along Sanford Lake, just a few miles from state land.

Before if Kelbey and his friends wanted to ride their ORVs on state land they had to travel. "We'd have to trailer. The closest place would be to go up to Gladwin County," Kelbey said.

Now, he never has to leave his home.

"It gives us something to do, it's right here in our backyard. I can drive out of my neighborhood, we can run the ORVs down the side of the road, they opened that up last year," Kelbey said.

At the start of the new year, of the total 7,552 miles of forest roads in the Northern Lower Peninsula, 6,308 miles will be open to ORV use.

That includs some roads in the state land off of West River Road in Jerome Township.

Cross country skiiers, runners, snowbikers and others already enjoy them.

"The more the better as long as everybody's respectful," said Matt LeVasseur of Midland. He was snowbiking with friends on New Year's Day.

LeVasseur and his friends saw several ORVs on the trails on the very first day, and he understands why. "It's a gem, absolute gem."

Not only do ORV riders believe the change gives them more choices, it could also have a positive impact on stores, restaurants and gas stations.

"You're stopping along the way before you hit the trail, that's when you get everything you figure you need and yeah, your business is going near the parking lot, wherever you were parking before," Kelbey said.

The DNR shared this about the process to make the changes on its website, "During two public comment periods, we received nearly 2,000 comments on our proposals to open or close forest roads across the Northern Lower Peninsula. Commenters provided general support or opposition to the forest road inventory project as a whole, as well as input on specific road segments."

Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to go directly to the DNR's website.

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