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Old 08-16-2012, 03:00 PM   #1
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Default Highway ROW Legislation

TO: UP ORV TDA
FR: Skip Schulz, UP ORV TDA President
RE: Michigan ORV Legislation "Re-Write" Meeting in Lansing, Aug 8, 2012
DT: August 14, 2012

With the financial support of Tom McCarthy and the Lake Gogebic Chamber of Commerce; Mary Lou Dreisinga of the Lake Gogebic Chamber and myself went to a meeting in Lansing last Week.

The meeting room was packed, and some had to stand outside in the hall. The meeting was attended by 3 of our UP ORV TDA Board Members; Pat Brower and Lewis Schuler (At large Board Members) and myself. Others in the meeting including Tim Kobasic (ORV Work Group appointee/Delta SORVA), Dick Ranney of the Michigan Motorized Recreation Council, ORV Stakeholders, Lobbyist's for Polaris, Stacy Welling of the Michigan DNR's UP Offices, a representative for the Michigan Department of Transportation, and a representative of the County Road Association of Michigan.

While many specific 'lines' in the Right of Way Legislation were discussed, the main issue, and the one that many of us have been working on for the past two years dealt with the jurisdiction, and final 'say' as to which agency and who would decide as to what State and Federal Highway Right of Ways and Bridges would be opened for an ORV Trail.

It basically came down to the legislation would have to be changed to giving MDOT (and possibly), the MDNR, that right. The Rep from MDOT stated all of his objections to this right being given to the County Board of Commissioners that we knew they were going to say. However, to get this legislation moving, and to get a Public Hearing, the legislation will be re-written to accommodate MDOT.

While I am not happy as to this compromise, all of us needs to realize that if we are to get this legislation moving THIS YEAR, and not have to go through this whole process all over again next year, we need to do what it takes to take this legislation to the next step. What I brought up at the meeting, and will continue to bring up is the following;

1) If it will be up to MDOT and the MDNR to make the decision as to which ROW and Bridges are open for an ORV Trail, then we have to have it in the legislation where these state agencies have a specified amount of time to make a decision. I brought up the fact that due to the bureaucracy of State Agencies, they could take YEARS to make a decision. This CANNOT happen, these agencies need to make a decision on each specific ROW/Bridge proposal within 90 to 180 days...NO LONGER.
2) What I would also like to see in the legislation is that if these Agencies REJECT a proposed ROW/Bridge, then they must hold a Public Hearing in the County where the proposed ROW/Bridge is located.
3) While I did not bring up how different State and Federal Highway Traffic is between the Southern Part of the Lower Peninsula is and the Northern Part of the Lower and the Upper Peninsula, the MDOT representative kept going back to Safety Concerns on State Highways in the Southern Part of Michigan...if this is such a concern, then why not make this legislation 'geographic?" Do the same thing that PA 240 did in the start? One of the reason's I did not bring this up is the CRAM Official 'belittled' the hard work that Dick Ranney and his group did with the original PA 240 legislation, which was done geographically. Sorry to report this, but I should have stood up to the CRAM Official and defended Dick for the EXCELLENT job they did.

OR WE CAN GET AS MANY ROAD COMMISSIONS AND COUNTY BOARDS IN THE UPPER PENINSULA TO SEND AN E-MAIL TO REP FRANK FOSTER, CHAIRMAN OF THE MICHIGAN STATE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, AND REP MATT HUUKI, SPONSOR OF THE O-R-V LEGISLATION, HB 5612, AND ASK THEM TO HAVE IT WHERE IN THE UPPER PENINSULA AND NORTHERN LOWER PENINSULA, THAT WE RETAIN THE ORIGINAL INTENT OF HB 5612, AND KEEP IT WHERELOCAL, COUNTY BOARDS, IN SUPPORT OF COUNTY ROAD COMMISSIONS MAKE THE DECISION AS TO WHICH STATE/FEDERAL HIGHWAY RIGHT OF WAYS AND BRIDGES ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE AN O-R-V TRAIL.

Rep. Frank Foster, (R) D-107, Chair, Pellston, frankfoster@house.mi.gov
Rep. Matt Huuki, (R) D-110, Vice-Chair, Atlantic Mine, matthuuki@house.mi.gov
Attached is a 'sample' e-mail to e-mail Rep Foster and Rep Huuki.


I want to inform and remind everyone that this legislation for opening State and Federal Highway ROW/Bridges has STRICT guidelines. The trail HAS to be:
1) to connect one trail to another
2) to get access to services (gas, food, lodging, ORV Service, etc) and communities
3) to get access to a tourist site, attraction

This legislation DOES NOT allow for people to simply ride on a State or Federal Highway ROW/Bridge for 'pleasure riding, personal reasons.'

The other issue that brought out a lot of discussion at this meeting dealt with adding the initials, ROV (Recreational Off Road Vehicle) to the verbiage where it was ORV/ATV. This was pushed by the Polaris Lobbyists...which led to the debate about increasing 50 inch trails to 65 inch trails. I personally did not see this as a 'big' issue, nor am I personally opposed to increasing the trail width from 50 inches to 65 inches...however this is another issue that should be addressed at a different time.

Right now, we NEED the ROW/Bridge legislation to get a Public Hearing and pass out of the Natural Resources Committee. We only have a limited amount of time to get this legislation passed in the State House and moved over to the Senate.

Joy Brewer, Rep Matt Huuki's aide is working with the draft-writer in making the changes. Once these changes are made, I will get a copy and forward them to the UP ORV TDA Board for our approval.

Mary Lou and I also attended the Michigan ORV Workgroup meeting that night. They went over a Legislative Ride held in the Lower, the DNR's Youth ORV Safety Council Instructor Academy held in June, development of ORV Trail Maps and how to fund them, and informed those in attendance of the ORV Legislative 're-write' meeting.

On another note, I will be attending another meeting in Iron Mountain to work on getting an ORV Trail in/out of that area. That meeting is this coming Monday at the Dickinson County Library at 2:00 pm CENTRAL.

Tonight, Thursday Night, we will have the election of the Region 7 (Gogebic/Ontonagon County) Board. This meeting will be held in Bergland at 7:00 pm ET. Mi-TRALE, Western UP Trails Association, and the Individual members of the UP ORV TDA have been notified of this meeting. I will be handling that election as an officer of the UP ORV TDA.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! PLEASE forward this e-mail to other ORV Stakeholders.

Skip Schulz
UP ORV Trail Development Association President/Mi-TRALE President
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