State opens 6,300 miles of forest roads to ORVs

Dec 19, 2017

Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Thousands of miles of forest roads will soon open to off road vehicles in northern Lower Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder signed a law last year permitting ORVs on all Lower Peninsula forest roads, except those closed by the state. Around 6,300 miles of roads will open on January 1. 

“These roads are already open for conventional motor vehicle use,” says Scott Whitcomb with the state Department of Natural Resources. “So you and I could go out there with our four-wheel-drive pickup and drive there today if we wanted to. So what this is doing is adding a different class of motorized user in the form of an ORV.”

Whitcomb says DNR officials have decided to keep 1,200 miles of forest roads closed to ORVs. 

“In general we’re trying to balance the desire for motorized recreation and public access against the potential for resource damage [and] potential conflicts with other users in the forest,” Whitcomb says. 

ORVs will not be allowed on roads in Sand Lakes Quiet Area, nor in several other sensitive areas in northern Lower Michigan.

The DNR has drawn maps of the area's many forest roads. It’s working on a similar inventory for the rest of the state.