A special committee formed earlier this summer to assist the Michigan Department of Natural Resources resolve issues of erosion on the Blueberry Ridge Pathway near Marquette has announced its recommendations.
The Blueberry Ridge Committee, comprised of area residents and trail user groups, has unanimously recommended to the DNR that Blueberry Ridge Pathway be closed temporarily during the spring, summer and fall seasons to allow for necessary trail stabilization and resource restoration until the spring of 2007.
The trail system will be closed to all users, effective immediately, to allow for stabilization and revegetation. DNR officials have pledged to open the trail for cross country skiing and snowshoeing once adequate snowfall has allowed for trail grooming to commence, which usually occurs in early December. The trail will be closed once again to non-snow month users for all of 2006.
"Following our review of the significant erosion totaling more than 4,000 feet of trail, it was determined that in order to repair the surface, we need to act now to halt any further damage and protect the resource," said Mike Paluda, Upper Peninsula supervisor for Forest, Mineral and Fire Management.
When the trail reopens to warm weather users in the spring of 2007, mountain bikes and horses will not be allowed on the Blueberry Ridge Pathway. Paluda said it is the intention of the DNR to seek a Director's Land Use Order to temporarily close the trail and to prohibit mountain bikes and horses once it is reopened. With support from the committee, the DNR will seek an alternative trail system that will allow for improved trail riding conditions for horseback riders and mountain bikers.
Paluda added that two options are being considered for this second trail system. One concept would weave another trail through the existing Blueberry Ridge Pathway tract. The second option would move the horseback riders and mountain bikers to adjacent state land where they would have the use of their own trail system. Paluda said with the second trail option, winter users could include dog sledders and ski-jourers not currently permitted use of the Blueberry Ridge Trail.
The committee will meet again in September to consider the options for the location of the new trail. Paluda said the DNR is committed to building the new trail system and will begin immediately to secure appropriate funding to accomplish that task.
Members of the Blueberry Ridge Committee include Jane Carmichael, Janet Koistenen, George Miller, Debby Muskovitch and Laurie Neldberg-Weesen, all of Marquette, Dave Kallio and James Kidder of Sands Township and Joan Duncan of Skandia.
"The Blueberry Ridge Committee, representing all user groups, worked very diligently to come up with the best solution for this very important trail system. I am very pleased with their constructive suggestions, discussions and recommendations," Paluda added.
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.
INFO CONTACT: Mike Paluda or Ann Wilson 906-228-6561