DNR: Help the ‘Trails State’ shape Michigan’s trails management plan

ATV trail riding between Champion and Big Bay, Marquette Co.

Veteran trail users in Michigan know the state is richer than most, with 13,000 miles of state-managed trails, thousands of miles of local, county and federally managed trails, and more rail-trail miles than any state in the nation. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which oversees state-designated trails, is asking for input – from trail lovers of all experience levels – on the management and future development of these valuable resources.

From Oct. 1 through Oct. 22, the DNR will host a series of virtual meetings where people can learn about the department’s draft vision and goals for Michigan’s trails system (developed with assistance from the Michigan Trails Advisory Council) and share their own ideas.

The meetings are the next step in the DNR’s effort to update the 2013 Statewide Trails Plan, an 18-month process that started last fall and will be completed by summer 2021.

Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said the timing of this updating process is especially relevant.

“Broad public access to quality trails has become more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people seek out natural spaces where they can relax and recharge while social distancing,” Olson said. “As we work toward a plan that reflects the current and future needs and desires of all trail users, it’s critical that we hear from users, partners and others about trail opportunities and challenges.”

Virtual meeting details
The DNR has scheduled seven regional or use-specific meetings:

Thursday, Oct. 1, 6 p.m. (Upper Peninsula region).
Tuesday, Oct. 6, 6 p.m. (motorized trails).
Thursday, Oct. 8, 6 p.m. (northern Lower Peninsula region).
Tuesday, Oct. 13, 6 p.m. (southwestern Lower Peninsula region).
Thursday, Oct. 15, 6 p.m. (southeastern Michigan region)
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 6 p.m. (nonmotorized trails).
Thursday, Oct. 22, 6 p.m. (water trails).

Due to COVID-19 public health and safety concerns, all meetings will be hosted virtually. People are encouraged to attend any meetings that align with their preferred destinations or pursuits. Registration for all meetings is required.

To learn more about the planning process, register for a virtual meeting or complete the online trails survey, please visit the public participation section of the MichiganTrailsPlan.org website.

Anyone unable to participate in the virtual meetings is encouraged to review the draft vision and goals, other resources and meeting records (as they become available) and share feedback via the online survey. Recordings of each meeting, when completed, also will be posted at the webpage noted above.

For more information about the trails plan updating process or virtual meetings, or to request special accommodations, contact Cody Proudfoot by email.

2020 Michigan Trails Week Challenge
Additionally, Michigan Trails Week is coming up Sept. 20-27. Anyone interested in exploring new trails, visiting old favorites or joining the Trails Week Challenge to collectively run, hike, ride or paddle 100,000 miles is encouraged to visit HERE

As of this morning, more than 3,600 people have signed up for this fun, free, eight-day challenge that pays tribute to trails.

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