2018-01-11 / Views

Save voices, opinions for park management plan

Park manager Kasey Mahony was somewhat surprised at one reaction to a press release announcing the opening of a fat-tire bike trail in Leelanau State Park.


Ms. Mahony has been manager of the Keith J. Charters State Park in Traverse City since last fall, so she’s had little time to get to know the territory. Part of her duties include oversight at Leelanau State Park, which occupies one of the prettiest and most pristine shorelines in the Lower Peninsula.

Ms. Mahony issued a temporary land use permit allowing for a new trail system designed for fat-tire bikes at Leelanau State Park. The trail itself, from what we’ve been told, has been a success, drawing outdoor sports enthusiasts from throughout the state and beyond.

Those opposed to the trail, although small in numbers, do bring a valid point. Their opinions had no platform.

Frankly, we’re fine with the trail itself, and laud the bikers who sought the permit and then volunteered to locate and groom new trails with a snowmobile. We’ve heard about possible erosion problems, but walking can also cause erosion. The question comes down to how much human participation — and resulting degradation of the natural resource — should be allowed in the park.

We’re not talking about a wilderness here. Let the people enjoy their property.

But we don’t like the closed process for making decisions.

We understand that “procedures” were followed. And we’re not saying anyone did anything under the table. Far from it. The state of Michigan was petitioned by a user group, did some homework, and opted to open up Leelanau State Park to a new use as one way to “test the waters” for fat-tire biking.

Still there was a change that will affect the park’s most adamant fans. Their voices could have been part of the chorus of opinions at a public hearing or meeting. Or at least a flyer could have been posted explaining what was being proposed.

On a brighter note, Leelanau State Park is near the head of a list of parks for a public input process that will lead to a park management plan for its 1,300 acres.

The process is scheduled for 2019, and that chorus of voices will be welcome.

We expect to hear lots of opinions, as Leelanau loves its parks.

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