THUNDER BAY TRAILS MEETS WITH DNR

TBTA leadership met with the DNR at the Alpena County Library on Friday afternoon.  The DNR was well represented with staff from the Forest Resources, Parks & Recreation, and the Wildlife Division.  Of particular note was the presence of William O’Neil, Chief of the Forest Resources Division.  Also in attendance were Mary Beth Stutzman, Alpena CVB, Jackie Krawczak Alpena Chamber of Commerce, and Representative Peter Petallia.

The DNR opened the meeting with a well done slide presentation.  The presentation  stated  the Forest Resources position that the proposed timber cut is necessary, is good for the forest and is good for wildlife.  The presentation did not explain how the proposed timber cut is good for the Chippewa Hills Pathway and its non-motorized users.

Randy Fairbanks, President of Thunder Bay Trails Association, read the following:

THUNDER BAY TRAILS ASSOCIATION

POSITION ON THE PROPOSED TIMBER TREATMENT AT THE CHIPPEWA HILLS PATHWAY

October 10, 2014

 

The Thunder Bay Trails Association recognizes the importance of the Chippewa Hills Pathway to the citizens of Alpena County for the following reasons:

  • Chippewa Hills is one of only two non-motorized pathways on state forest lands in Alpena County;
  • Chippewa Hills is used by a wide array of non-motorized users on a year round basis,( cross country skiing, snow shoeing, equestrians, mountain bikes, runner, hikers, nature lovers, bird watchers, mushroom  pickers;
  • The natural terrain at the Chippewa Hills Pathway makes an appeal to all users no matter what their fitness level and provides a high quality non-motorized experience;
  • Chippewa Hills is unique because it is the only non-motorized trail within a fifty mile radius that has elevation changes;
  • Chippewa Hills is made up of rolling mature hardwood forests. Much of the forest is majestic oak trees creating a rich outdoor experience.  The 2012 Trail User Survey, conducted by the DNR, Important Characteristics of Trails,   indicated that the opportunity to appreciate nature was ranked as the most important characteristic by 37 percent of the trail users.
  • Chippewa Hills due to its higher elevation does not have standing water and thus is usually free from annoying insects.

In 1997 the Department of Natural Resources, Forest Resources Division stopped grooming for cross-country skiing at two non-motorized trail systems in Alpena County.  A group of non-motorized trails enthusiast formed what is now known as Thunder Bay Trails Association and obtained 501c non-profit status.

  • To this date, Thunder Bay Trails Association continues to groom for cross country skiing;
  • To this date, Thunder Bay Trails Association has not received financial assistance from any division of the Department of Natural Resources;
  • Thunder Bay Trails Association volunteers perform regular trail maintenance, repairs and constructs new trail facilities;
  • Thunder Bay Trails has advocated and lobbied for trail expansion at both the Norway Ridge Pathway and the Chippewa Hills Pathway;
  • The mission statement of Thunder Bay Trails Association is to promote and protect non-motorized trail systems in Alpena county and adjoining areas and reflect their significance for the enjoyment, education and adventure to area citizens.

The Department of Natural Resources has the following mission statement and goals

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use, and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations.

GOALS

  • Protect natural and cultural resources.
  • Ensure sustainable recreation use and enjoyment.
  • Enable strong natural resource-based economies.
  • Improve and build relationship and partnerships.
  • Foster effective business practices and good governance.

The Forest Resources Division has the following mission statement:

  • To manage, protect, and provide for the sustainable use of Michigan’s forest resources.

The Forest Resources Division has the following vision:

  • Vital, healthy and abundant forests that provide social, economic and ecological benefits.

It is the position of the membership of the Thunder Bay Trails Association that the Department of Natural Resources falls far short of its’ stated mission and vision when it comes to the proposed timber cut, “treatment”, of the Chippewa Hills Pathway.  It is also the position of the members of the Thunder Bay Trails Association that no timber cutting is done at the Chippewa Hills Pathway complex.  The membership of Thunder Bay Trails Association does not oppose timber cutting.  The membership of Thunder Bay Trails Association does oppose timber cutting practices that place recreational pursuits, wildlife concerns and environmentally sound foresting practices behind that of monetary greed.  The membership of Thunder Bay Trails Association is well aware of the importance the timber industry brings to Alpena County.  The membership of Thunder Bays Trails Association feels that the preservation of the Chippewa Hills Pathway and its’ non-motorized significance far outweighs any monetary gain that the Forest Resources Division will profit from the proposed timber treatment.

 

Cheif O’Neil was given a copy of the TBTA position paper.  President Fairbanks then left the meeting.