The Department of Natural Resources announced today that snowmobile and off-road vehicle (ORV) trail riders will soon notice a reduction in the types of trail markings along the more than 10,000 miles of Michigan’s designated motorized trail system. The DNR implemented these changes to improve safety and provide consistent guidance to the more than 90 non-profit organizations that maintain the trails.

A citizens’ advisory workgroup (comprised of trail-riding enthusiasts, trail maintenance organizations, members of the DNR’s Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup and the Michigan Snowmobile Association) made recommendations to the DNR, resulting in these upcoming changes. Technical support for the workgroup was provided by recreation and law enforcement staff of the DNR and the U.S. Forest Service.

Changes include the elimination of 10 workgroup-selected snowmobile signs, the addition of five new snowmobile signs (plus guidelines for placement), and a reduction in the size of regulatory signs in the ORV program to make them consistent with snowmobile signage (already implemented in 2011). The changes also include replacing ORV trail markers with new, highly visible, yellow markers. Installation will be phased in over the next several years.

The following snowmobile trail signs will be removed:

  • Bridge Ahead
  • Chevron
  • Deer Crossing
  • Drift Area
  • Narrow Bridge
  • Narrow Trail
  • Trail Crossing
  • Truck Traffic
  • Two Way Trail
  • Winding Trail

New snowmobile trail signs include:

  • Combination Horizontal Alignment/Intersection (left and right)
    (These bright yellow signs with directional arrows may be used on snowmobile trails to give notice of changes in horizontal trail alignment less than 90 degrees where an intersection occurs within or immediately adjacent to a turn)
  • “Private Drives Ahead”
    (These signs may be used to warn trail users where driveways cross a snowmobile trail)
  • One-Direction Large Arrow (left and right)
    (These signs will be used on snowmobile trails to give notice of changes in horizontal trail alignment of 90 degrees or more. One-direction Large Arrow signs are 10 x 20 inches, yellow reflective signs with a black arrow and border)
  • “Next (number of) Miles” – supplemental plaque
    (These signs may be installed below “Private Drives Ahead” signs to indicate how many miles long the stretch of trail with private drives runs)
  • “Trail Closed to Wheeled Motor Vehicles Ahead”
    (When used, these signs should be placed on state or federal land prior to the point where a designated state snowmobile trail enters private property where wheeled motorized vehicle use is prohibited)

The DNR will continue to mark 90-degree turns with “sharp turn” warning signs supplemented with a new directional arrow. The new snowmobile trail signage program will go into effect at the start of the 2012-13 snowmobile season.

According to Bill Manson, executive director of the Michigan Snowmobile Association, “Several of the other snowmobile states and Ontario have reduced their signs and have seen a reduction in accidents. Our objective is to provide a safe, family-oriented trail system for snowmobiling in Michigan.”

“The changes to the motorized trail signage program is the result of a collaborative process with stakeholder groups and should be a real improvement for trail users,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “The sign reductions will result in less clutter along the trails and provide for more consistency statewide.”

In addition, new ORV trail confidence markers will be phased in over the next several years as funding allows. The new ORV trail markers will be yellow to distinguish them from snowmobile trails. For additional information, please contact Steve Kubisiak, DNR Recreation and Trails Program coordinator at 517-373-1665 or via e-mail at kubisiaks@michigan.gov.

Logo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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