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Increased ORV access on state forest roads begins Jan 1; check maps for closed areas

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Statewide DNR News

Dec. 15, 2017

Contact: Scott Whitcomb, 989-983-4101

Most state forest roads in Northern Lower Peninsula will open to ORV use Jan. 1; check maps for closed areasAn ORV rider travels down a state forest road.

Approximately 6,300 miles of roads in Michigan’s 4-million-acre state forest system will open to off-road vehicles Jan. 1, while about 1,200 miles will remain closed.

Signs are not yet in place, but will be installed on roads that are closed to ORV use as soon as possible, depending on ground conditions. ORV riders who intend to use state forest roads are asked to check DNR maps for closures at Final maps will be available by Dec. 31.

DNR Director Keith Creagh authorized the road use plan Thursday after a presentation to the Natural Resources Commission. The decision to keep some roads closed was made with substantial public input.

“Lots of planning and consideration have gone into this to make sure that all forest users can have the best possible experience,” said Deb Begalle, chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division. “The plan balances motorized recreational access with the need for resource protection.”

Opening the roads to ORV use is authorized by Public Act 288, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in September 2016, which authorizes use of ORVs on state forests roads. The statute also requires the DNR to inventory and map all state forest roads. An inventory of northern Lower Peninsula roads is complete; forest roads in the rest of the state will be mapped by Dec. 31, 2018.

Areas that will remain closed to ORV traffic include 4.3 miles of roads in the Deward Tract, which is along the Manistee River between Grayling and Gaylord; roads within the Pigeon River Country State Forest, Mason Tract and Sand Lakes Quiet Area, where quiet recreation is emphasized; and some roads offering access to the Au Sable River leading to Black Hole, Sheep Ranch and Old Campground access sites. Also remaining closed: 6.7 miles of state forest roads near the Big Oaks Equestrian State Forest Campground on Avery Lake near Atlanta.

In addition, DNR staff will monitor ORV and nonmotorized trail use in the VASA Trail System after working with a coalition of both types of users to determine the most appropriate roads to open to ORV use. DNR staff also are in the process of working with Camp Grayling in an effort to provide ORV users with a safe route to connect to state forest roads in the area.

For more information on the effort to inventory and open state forest roads, visit

/Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Suggested caption follows.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, ORV users in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula will have increased access to thousands of miles of state forest roads./

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more 

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