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Michigan DNR closes 4,700 acres

The DeWard Tract had been open to snowmobilers since the 1990s
Land closures are happening all over the United States, not just national parks like Yellowstone. In Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources closed 4,700 acres of state-owned land to all motorized vehicles, including snowmobiles.

The closed area is part of the DeWard Tract, located in the northwestern part of the state between Antrim, Crawford, Kalkaska and Otsego counties.

Snowmobilers have been riding the DeWard Tract since the 1990s. But in March 2003, the DNR decided to ban snowmobilers from riding the trail
The Michigan Snowmobile Association was unaware of any problems with riding in the area because they said the DNR never contacted them. The Snowmobile Advisory Committee said they knew nothing about the ban regarding snowmobiling in the DeWard Tract, said a legislative report in Michigan Snowmobile magazine.

The DeWard Tract was purchased by the DNR in the early 1970s, and all snowmobiling was stopped. In 1990, a gas pipeline was put through the entire length of the area that was opened to snowmobiling.

The MSA said they were unaware that local DNR people had been dealing with problems with trespassing in the area for some time. They said they were only told that the DNR was going to close a section of the trail in a heavy forest area. They had no idea the entire trail was going to be closed.

At this time, it is unclear whether the trail will be reopened to snowmobilers because the trail is located on private property and crosses the Upper Manistee River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, said Michigan Snowmobile magazine. It would take a director's order to once again open the area to sledders.
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