A recent mountain bike ride on the Chippewa Hills Pathway revealed that the surrounding forest has been marked for an extensive timber cut. Trees right up to the edge of pathway are marked with bright red paint designating them for elimination. The entire area surrounding the mountain bike single track will be cut.
Chippewa Hills Pathway is one of two pathways located on state forest land in Alpena County. Chippewa Hills is unique because of its elevation changes and rolling hardwood forest. The pathway is located within the confines of the Mackinac State Forest thus it comes under the management of the Forest Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources. TBTA has a considerable stake in the pathway. TBTA took over the maintenance of the pathway over 15 years ago after the Forest Resources Division cited lack of funding and manpower to maintain the pathway. TBTA has received no assistance from the DNR in preserving, protecting and maintaining the pathway. The pathway is used for hiking, biking, skiing, snow shoeing and equestrian recreation. Beginning in 1995, TBTA has lobbied the DNR and many others to expand the trail system to include the mountain bike single track. Those efforts have all been met with a resounding, “NO”, from DNR officials.

Now we are faced with the reality of losing what we have due to the proposed timber cut.
I don’t pretend to be a forester nor am I against logging. I do question the rationale in lumbering in, on, over and around the nicest non-motorized trail not only in Alpena County but all of Northeast Michigan.
In an effort to make some sense of the pending timber cut I checked the DNR website. The following is taken from a document on that site (Forest Resources Division Strategic Plan 2014-2018).
Planning for the future health and sustainability of Michigan’s state forests is important work that directly affects these natural resources and the economic, recreation, and environmental pursuits tied to them. As Michigan continues to move forward, our state forests will be an even bigger part of those landscapes.
The Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Resources Division has developed a five-year strategic plan to guide decisions and actions governing the health of Michigan’s state forest resources.
The goals and objectives of this plan lay the groundwork for meeting the division’s mission and complement the DNR’S overall strategic direction. The plan provides a benchmark for determining actions that:
​. Are scientifically and economically sound;
​. Ensure rich outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities:
​. Protect and enhance forest resources for the future and
​. Best speak to the needs and interests of all stakeholders.

Sincerely Keith Creagh, Director
Department of Natural Resources

I would like to ask Director Creagh the following: What science does the Forest Resource Division use to justify destroying the Chippewa Hills Pathway? Does destroying the Pathway ensure rich outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities? How does destroying the Pathway protect and enhance forest resources for the future? Does destruction of the Pathway speak to the needs and interests of non-motorized trail users?
I urge everyone reading this to educate themselves on what is happening to our state forests. It is no secret. Check out the DNR website. Read the FOREST RESOURCES DIVISION STRATEGIC PLAN, FOREST RESOURCES DIVISION ACCOMPLISHMENTS REPORT 2013, and the FOREST RESOURCES DIVISION GOALS & OBJECTIVES. Check out the Michigan Environmental Council report, MANAGING MICHIGAN’S STATE OWNED FORESTS.
Ask yourself, what has the Forest Resources Division done in the past 20 years for non-motorized recreation on state forest lands in Alpena County? Ask the DNR if the non-motorized pathways in Alpena County receive any funding from the DNR, and how much money goes into the Forest Resources Divisions operating budget from timber sales from state forest properties in Alpena County? And inquire whether, in the last 20 years, there have been any non-motorized trail expansions on state forest land in Alpena County.
Let the facts speak for themselves. I contend that no matter what the DNR leaders say, write or post on their website, non-motorized recreation on state forest lands is a non-priority and will not change unless the top management recognizes and accepts all goals of their own mission statement.
Stay tuned, Thunder Bay Trails Association is putting it’s advocacy wheels in motion in an effort to save the Chippewa Hills Pathway.
Randy Fairbanks
President, TBTA