Michigan BHA - Protect the Deward Tract from ORV Damage

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A few months ago, we asked you to stand up for some of Michigan’s most unique public lands and support the Department of Natural Resources’ plan to keep some forest roads closed to ORV’s while implementing Public Act 288 of 2016. Many of you did, and as a result, we helped protect forest roads in the Pigeon River Country from ORV damage. But there’s another special place which still needs our help to protect one of the best trout streams in Michigan. Email the DNR to Protect the Deward Tract from ORV Damage at DNR-RoadInventoryProject@michigan.gov

PA 288 required the DNR to inventory forest roads, and changed the status of northern Lower Peninsula forest roads from “closed unless open” to “open unless closed” to ORV traffic. The DNR is proposing to keep only about 15% of forest roads closed to ORV’s, and that in and of itself is okay: ORV riders need places to practice their form of outdoor recreation, too. However, there are some places where ORV’s are incompatible with the historic recreational, fish and wildlife uses of those places. One of those is the Deward Tract, described by the DNR as such: “The DeWard tract is a 4,720 acre special management area located in Antrim, Crawford, Kalkaska, and Otsego Counties. Plagued by damage from motorized vehicles, this special area was designated in 1980 to protect the Upper Manistee River Corridor. Today lush vegetation and wildlife in the area attribute to the success of the protection measures put in place…Access is restricted in the area to protect the Upper Manistee River corridor and to provide a ‘quality' fishing experience.” Email the DNR to Protect the Deward Tract from ORV Damage at DNR-RoadInventoryProject@michigan.gov

If any place needs protection from ORV’s, it’s the Deward Tract. The state has spent almost 40 years restoring it from motorized vehicle damage, and now it protects one of Michigan’s signature trout rivers which draw anglers from around the world. Allowing ORV’s in this sandy area will not improve hunting and fishing access to the Manistee River: it will ruin it for anglers and damage the resource we have a duty and a responsibility to protect as conservationists.

The comment period on the DNR’s proposal is open until November 16 by emailing DNR-RoadInventoryProject@michigan.gov with the subject “DNR Road Inventory Project.” Ask the DNR to protect forest roads in special places like the Deward Tract and the Pigeon River Country from ORV damage. You can also comment in person at the November 9 Natural Resources Commission meeting at the MSU Veterinary Diagnostic Building in Lansing, Michigan.

Thank you for standing up for Michigan’s public lands and waters!

Sincerely,
The Board of Directors
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Michigan Chapter

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