An agreement between the Department of Natural Resources and the Legislature will allow the department to groom most of the state-owned cross country ski trails through at least mid-January. The DNR had announced in November that 16 state-owned ski trails would not be groomed due to General Fund reductions to the State Forest Recreation Program.
"This budget agreement is contingent on the Legislature passing a supplemental budget bill in 2008 that provides adequate General Fund support to the State Forest Recreation Program," said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. "Without adequate General Fund support, we cannot afford to groom the trails this winter. This program historically has been supported with General Fund dollars to provide free public recreational activities for the citizens of Michigan, including cross-country skiing, hiking and mountain bike riding."The supplemental is also needed to keep the state forest campgrounds open and re-open the 20 that were closed due to General Fund reductions.
The agreement to groom the trails will allow the Legislature time to address the General Fund reductions in the State Forest Recreation Program that were approved by the Legislature and the Governor in October. Legislators are hoping to approve a supplemental budget bill in January that would give the DNR funding for cross-country ski trail grooming. If the funding is not approved, the DNR will cease grooming operations in mid-January, as it will not have funding to continue, Humphries said.
The trails that the DNR will groom and plow parking areas for include:
DNR staff will continue to work with organizations that have existing volunteer agreements with the DNR for a portion of the Black Mountain trails in Presque Isle County, Norway Ridge in Alpena County, Chippewa Hills in Alpena County, Cadillac Pathways in Wexford County, Blueberry Ridge Pathway in Marquette County, the VASA Pathway in Grand Traverse County and the Ogemaw Hills Pathway in Ogemaw County.
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state*s natural resources for current and future generations.