Several members of the MMBA were invited and a few were able to attend this meeting. As a clarification, this was not an open house. It was a stakeholder meeting by invitation. An open house meeting will be coming up in the near future (I thought it would be September or October). You can follow the progress at http://www.birchlerarroyo.com/Clients/DNR-RD.htm
. The presentation they gave is available on their web site.
This is the first stakeholder meeting I've attended but it sounds similar to what I've heard of Ft. Custer and Highland, where the state essentially lays out their plan and invites buy-in from the stakeholders. I'm told, by the planner, they will alter their plan if they get enough pushback or new information. However, they have essentially made up their mind and are hoping the stakeholder groups will accept it. I’ll add more to this in a bit.
As for the plan, it looks very promising. For those not familiar with what is happening, the DNR is finally making good on a long standing request to get meaningful bike trails in Waterloo. The culmination of this was hiring an outside vendor (birchlerarroyo) to develop a land management plan for Pinckney & Waterloo. Keep in mind this is a long and slow process. It will be a year or two before we can start breaking trail.
Plan Fundamentals – The plan essentially classifies different areas of the park into categories. The three largest (in terms of land and impact to the MMBA) categories are 1) Developed Recreation, 2) Backcountry and 3) Primitive. We have access to the first two, but not Primitive
Pinckney - Obviously, we have trail in Pinckney (Poto) and the plan does not infringe upon this that I could tell. My concern is the equestrians will want to take over existing trail, as they did at Ft. Custer. However, I was assured the equestrians would be required to build trail. I also asked that they be required to prove they can maintain trail before being allowed to build new trail and was assured this would be taken into consideration. My concern here is they will build a trail, let it deteriorate and then move on to other virgin ground to build new trail.
Waterloo – According to the plan, there is an existing MTB trail. Everyone acknowledges this is (my interpretation) at best, a stretch, at worst a joke. The planners acknowledge we will be starting from scratch. We will have access to the backcountry area. The primitive area is mostly wetlands. The DNR parks department does not maintain that section, the department of wildlife does. The Park Manager told me the only time he has been in this area is on personal hunting trips. In talking to JAJ he confirmed there we are not missing out on anything here. If anyone feels otherwise, please speak up.
If you look at the map, we essentially have access to the southern sections of Waterloo with connectivity to Pinckney. The planners tell me they initially had marked some of the land butting up to Pinckney as primitive but changed that in order to allow us more access points from Pinckney into Waterloo. Apparently it is a mix of low wetlands with some high ground. The high ground was marked backcountry so that we would have access.
Summary – Overall, I am extremely pleased with what has been laid out. The DNR understands what we bring to the table in terms of trail building & maintenance which translates into more user groups (hikers included) having access to the park through the efforts of the MMBA. Therefore, in my humble opinion, they have designed the plan with plenty of opportunities for us to build meaningful trail. I’m sure there are more areas to cover but I didn’t want to make this post a mile long. Feel free to email or call me if you have questions or concerns. email@example.com