Unfortunately there are not many snowmobile only trails these days. The ones we used to have that ran on seasonal county roads have now been opened to year round ORV use. NFS land still has some snowmobile only trails, but even state forest roads have been opened to year round ORV use.
I own sleds, ATV's and a SXS and would support closing down ORV's in the LP from Jan 1st to Mar 1st everywhere except for use on ORV Trails and ORV Routes.
SO I deal with this all of the time. In fact I had a volunteer groomer driver quite, among other things specifically stated due to trucks driving on the trail that he just groomed destroying all of his hard work. The story is these few guys own trucks and like to take one of our trails as a shortcut between their places, and do it all around the year. In fact when the trail gets too tore up and there is lots of snow they can't use their favorite cut across - UNLESS IT IS GROOMED! This is a 12 mile out and back trail, so the groomer leaves the loop and heads out to the dead end, and by the time he is coming back he finds big wheel ruts in that fresh trail! You see these folks typically can't get out in lots of snow unless the road is hard packed - by the groomer. That groom is paid for by snowmobilers - not atv, nor road vehicles. For the most part neither of those groups could be out on the trails unless the snowmobiles paid to make the access for them, and that is the rub.The problem in Michigan is that a lot of the snowmobile trails run on seasonal country roads, which he DNR and MSA have zero control over. Now the county could make certain roads off limits to wheeled vehicles, but they would still have to allow someone to access their land with a vehicle.
This really is a simple thing, and I seriously hope that that legislation is NOT being tied to groomed trails except ORV routes and trails - because this will do zero good for me, and will open up 72 of 101 miles of my trails to non-snowmobile traffic (FYI I am in the UP) You see years ago the writing was on the wall on snowmobile funding, and we agreed to sponsor all of our snow trails that were eligible as ORV routes. They are routes because they are all so wide. This is a great thing because I can share the cost of trail maintenance - brushing, culverts, bridge repair, etc between 2 programs and I could not fund the improvements without the ORV help. However those routes ARE OPEN year around and if the legislation does not help us, then the snowmobiles are getting royally screwed. Many of the trucks around here know the rules, and use them against us and ride those groomed trails for fun.
It isn't just the ORV recreational stuff either, we have big problems with hunters. These guys will go out with their trucks on a groomed trail and park with the doors open, right in the middle of the trail and run dogs and stuff. Face is they could not be where they are without a hard packed snowmobile (paid for) trail, yet they get pissed when we suggest they should not be there, or they get roosted when a sled drives by. I am not saying they should not be hunting where they are, but they should be on a sled, and park off the trail. Just because you have a right to hunt, does not mean you have the right to use the trail that was paid for by the snowmobiles - regardless if the underlying land (road) is open to that turck.
I don't understand why this is so hard? The way I want to see it for groomed snowmobile trails:
When there is 6in of snow on the ground, and grooming is authorized by the local DNR then the following apply:
- If a trail is on a open (year around OR plowed) county road, it is open to all traffic.
- If a person must use a designated snowmobile trail to access private property - then they are allowed to use any means they want to access that property, including using snowmobile, atv, orv, truck and yes even plowing the trail to create access. This will be authorized by the local DNR, and they will be giving a free permit that they can show to avoid any incorrect use ticketing.
- If a trail is on a seasonal county road - snowmobile only.
- If the trail is on a ORV trail or route, sorry snowmobile only.
- A picture of a offending vehicle showing location and registration or license plate should be sufficient to issue a ticket to the vehicle owner. Along with this, ORV trail stickers will need to include traceable numbers like the snowmobile stickers do.
- We don't want to restrict anyones access to their property.
- ORVs pay for summer maintenance, they get Apr-Nov
- Snowmobiles pay (a lot more) for winter maintenance, they get Dec-Mar
- If weather is favorable outside of either of those date ranges, everyone shares.