Save Trail 614 in Irons Michigan! Bear Swamp Trail!
US FOREST SERVICE CLOSES TRAIL 614 IN THE IRONS AREA
The headline does not tell the whole story!
Trail 614 is an important connector trail to the Irons trail system. It has been part of the trail system for over 40 years. Trail 614 is utilized by all snowmobilers from the Southwest to access the Irons trail system and is a valuable connector to emergency medical services and fuel at Freesoil and Fountain. It has also served as a way for all the local cabin owners to connect to the marked groomed trail system.
On June 21, 2016, District Ranger, Jim Thompson, & Recreation Planner, Kathy Bieta, presented a plan to the SAW (Snowmobile Advisory Committee) to do the following;
- Remove the western portion of snowmobile trail 614 from the system:
- Decommission a segment of snowmobile trail 614 through Bear Swamp:
- Develop new routing for winter snowmobile trail 614:
At that meeting they showed us a map of the proposed reroute. After some discussion it was pointed out that the section of trail along 8 Mile would be a dangerous section and they were to look at a two track to the south. Although not the best reroute, most of it on unplowed roads and some on the side of plowed roads, it would not be the best but could work as the connector.
They also went on to say that the trail was being decommissioned because of 5 bridges that would need to be repaired and were unsafe and that the trail was in a Candidate Research Natural area. I doubt that it was called that in 1972 when it was being used by the locals to get around!
The USFS said that they were working with the DNR and the local Grant Holder, Irons Area Tourist Association (IATA) on the reroute.
Last winter it was agreed not to groom the section because of the weight of the groomers on the bridges, but it was marked and a sign put in place alerting snowmobilers that is would remain open until a reroute was found.
Fast forward to the last SAW Meeting on October 18, 2016. The USFS representative announced that they were abandoning the reroute due to a few people on the proposed reroute not wanting a snowmobile trail near their house. The route to get us off of the 8 Mile Rd ditch would need a NEPA study. So the announcement was made that “SNOWMOBILERS WOULD JUST HAVE TO FIND THEIR OWN WAY or USE THE TRAIL TO THE EAST ABOUT a 20 MILE DETOUR!
The MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILE ASSOCIATION finds that attitude and statement unacceptable!
In the latest statistics about the Forest Service, they are the LARGEST source of outdoor recreation opportunities. Nationwide, 87% of the visits to a National Forest are for RECREATION. We get that this trail might interfere with their latest forest plan, we get that the trail through a Swamp may not be the best, but we have trails all over Michigan that are on wet areas that freeze and are groomed to perfection. So if you want to close it, then you need to provide the snowmobiler with a safe alternative! This trail has been there for over 40 YEARS!
So MSA needs you the Snowmobiler to voice your displeasure with the closure.
Let them know that this Trail Closure, without a viable alternative is unacceptable!
Forest Supervisor Leslie Auriemmo email@example.com
District Ranger Jim Thompson firstname.lastname@example.org
Recreation Planner Kathy Bietau email@example.com
Michigan Snowmobile Association