2007-08-09 / Front Page

15 volunteer to serve on ORV task force

About 15 of the more than 40 people who attended Monday's organizational meeting of the Roscommon County ORV/ATV Task Force volunteered to be part of the group.

Lake Township Treasurer Tom Rose, who coordinated the meeting at the Houghton Lake Quality Inn, said the task force's first job is to advise townships which want to adopt ordinances allowing off-road and all-terrain vehicles to travel on county roads. He said he hopes other townships will follow the example of Richfield, which is already working to provide riders with access routes to the St. Helen business district. Rose said Roscommon County has an extensive trail network, but few staging areas near restaurants, motels and gas stations. He said Old 27, for example, could be an "ideal ORV route," providing access to Houghton Lake in winter by way of side streets, as well as access to trailheads.

Rose added he hopes the designation of some ORV, ATV and snowmobile trails can be changed to multiple use. Paige Perry, trails coordinator at the Department of Natural Resources regional office in Gaylord, said that may be possible "if it makes logical sense." However, she noted that funding and administration for ORV and snowmobile trails are separate.

Rick Hacker of Hacker's Yamaha & Honda, Houghton Lake, said ORV'ers go to other counties because they cannot ride to Houghton Lake and the DNR tickets them for riding on snowmobile trails. He added that even different types of ORV's are not legal on all the same routes.

Jim Debo, president of the Houghton Lake Trail Blazers snowmobile club, said snowmobiles and ORV's share the same trails in the St. Helen area, but at Houghton Lake their routes are separate, except for some bridges. He said the two types of users don't work together and have differing preferences for how trails should be groomed.

"You don't need any more trails," Debo said. They just need to be "integrated."

Roscommon County Sheriff Francis "Fran" Staley said allowing ORV's on county roads could result in a "burden" that would require more funding for law enforcement. He said the money his department receives from the state for ORV enforcement can only be used for patrols on ORV trails.

Bob Hetherington, one of 45 volunteers who patrol trails in Ogemaw County, explain how volunteers "educate" riders about what's legal and the penalties for violation. Ogemaw County has an ordinance which allows ORV's on county roadways designated by the county road commission. They can cross, but not ride along, state highways, he said.

In addition to Rose, those who volunteered to serve on the task force included Hacker, Staley, Perry, Roscommon County Road Commission Manager Tim O'Rourke, Roscommon Village Trustee Michael Butler, Lyon Township Treasurer Craig Williams, George Moberly, Ray Wantuck, Dave DenBoer of the Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce, Bill Kerns of Spicer's Boat City, Tom Gallagher of the Michigan Recreational Vehicle Riders Association and Dave Hohendorf.

Roscommon County Commissioners in June passed a resolution encouraging formation of the task force to "develop a plan that will open up access routes along specifically designated roads" to allow off-road and allterrain vehicle riders "better access to lodging, food and fuel."

The resolution said commissioners "recognize that ORV use is a growing and popular form of motorized recreation" which impacts citizens and businesses."

Rose said future task force meetings probably will be held in township halls, starting with Lake. He said the meetings will be open to the public.

For information on the task force, contact Rose at 422-5523, e-mail twesor@hotmail.com or write c/o Way North Motel & Cabins, 9052 West Houghton Lake Dr., Houghton Lake, MI 48629.

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