Lawmakers want Granholm to push for a decision on trail
Proposed route from Gaylord to Cheboygan at issue
BY SHERI McWHIRTER
CHEBOYGAN — Local politicians and snowmobile-trail caretakers await a response from Gov. Jennifer Granholm on whether she will intervene in a decade-long stalemate over a designated state route between Gaylord and Cheboygan.
"We're hoping she can put pressure on her agency (the (state Department of Natural Resources) to make a decision," said Brian Mills, chief of staff for Republican state Rep. Kevin A. Elsenheimer of Bellaire.
In a letter sent to her Lansing office more than two weeks ago, three area lawmakers asked Granholm to intervene.
DNR officials have not approved a number of proposed alternate routes to a former railroad grade that runs along the 12-mile western shore of Mullet Lake — the only missing link for a completed state trail between Gaylord and Cheboygan. That stretch was purchased by the state in 1995 and is closed to motorized traffic.
Proposed alternative routes were ruled out by state officials for a variety of reasons, including possible wetland damage, sensitive wildlife habitat within the Pigeon River Country state forest and costly bridge construction over I-75, the Little Pigeon River and the Pigeon River.
Jim Radabaugh, DNR trails coordinator, said there's no decision pending about how to connect the trail. He said all options are exhausted, so riders are left to use the unplowed portion of the shoulder along M-27.
Radabaugh said the West Mullet Lake railroad grade was purchased with Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund dollars under the condition that it forever remain a non-motorized trail.
"That's why we can't go back on it," he said.
State Sens. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, and Tony Stamas, R-Midland, also signed the Elsenheimer letter.
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