April 14, 2012-
Listen to the 60 Minute Show
Today’s issue is horse-riders being pushed off state land and trails.
Even though the horse-riders helped build and maintain trails in the state they are being pushed off the trails by other groups using their clout. On one trail alone fifteen horse campgrounds were closed by the DNR, but three were open due to resistance. On top of that, 32 systems have been closed off to horses as well. The old policy used to be that all people were allowed to use the land for recreation as long as the land wasn’t damage, but that policy was soon changed that you have to proof you can’t damage the land.
Any group shouldn’t be allowed to go to any land as they please, the DNR is there to make sure of that and that trails are maintained. But of any of the groups horse-riders are making the most sacrifices. The issue with the trails is parrallel to banning cars on the roads to make way for runners during certain hours, even though runners are okay with running during car hours anyways. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Guest Norm Seppi
Mr. Seppi is the President of Back Country Horsemen, Michigan.
He got into the issue four years ago at a DNR meeting and didn’t like how the DNR was dividing and conquering the various groups using the public land and spoke at that meeting. Horseriding is very important to him and his family as there have been four generations that have rode together on the trails.
On the issue of the Pigeon River, the trail goes by the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi River. The shortest route to the herd is by horseback, rather than by road. The Pigeon River counsel decided to push the horses off the trail and told them to use the roads. This is viewed as risky though because the roads are busy because of tourists, campers, etc. The horses could get spooked, and it only takes one incident for a rider to be hurt.
Horse-riders offered to work with the DNR on the issue and asked for an extension on the closing of the trails but the DNR swiftly rejected this.
He feels that from everyone he’s been talking to that the public is losing trust in the DNR.
From Dan’s experience on the trails, that bikers have been helpful but there are a few bad apples ruining it. This is usually worse when bikers are in a pack. In packs the bikers seem to be worse, usually refusing to make room for other people using the trails. Dan stresses to just be more respectful in general on the trails between people.
Back To Guest Mr. Seppi
For Blueberry Ridge Trail there was a meeting in Marquette about the uses of the trail, and Seppi could feel the animosity from some people at the meeting. Multiple groups, including himself gave testimony about the trail. He was told by the director overseeing the meeting that his mind was made up already and the testimony had no bearing.
Thunder Valley would be open to horses and the trails are allowed to be expanded though. There is movement in that area to expand the trails in that area for them now.
Seppi encourages people to contact their Representatives , the Governor and the DNR on this issue. Also you can find out more information at the Back Country Horsemen, Michigan site, and the Back Country Horsemen of America site.
At the end of the program a friend of Mr. Seppi called in to thank for bringing up the issue as he is a long time rider.