The Huron-Manistee National Forests is about one million acres, located between the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
Wednesday kicked off projects on the Mackenzie trail by Cadillac in the National Forest.
The 10.1-mile trail is mainly used for mountain biking and cross-country skiing, and the Forest Service says maintaining the trail has become more complex over the decades.
“We’ve had all kinds of diseases affecting our trees. The emerald ash borer is a good example, out here where tree mortality is just caused more downfall, especially over the winter months, so people can’t use the trail. You can’t bicycle on the trail if trees are across it,” explained Travis Owens, Public Affairs Specialists for the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
On Wednesday, they began clearing down trees with the help of Friends of the Mackenzie Trail.
“I’ve been using this trail since I was five years old. I grew up in Harrietta right down the road, and now I live right at Caberfae, so I’ve always cared about it,” said Sam Hogg, President of the Friends of the Mackenzie Trail.
“They have a lot of knowledge about the resources, and then it also increases our capacity, so we could have gotten out here and cleared the trail maybe once a year because of all the trails we manage. Now, the trail might get cleared five, six times a year,” added Owens.
Thanks to the Cadillac Community Foundation and the Cadillac Visitors Bureau, the organization bought a side-by-side to help with trail maintenance.
“Our goal is that our new vehicle is the only vehicle that’s not Forest Service or contractor that can be out on the trail because there was always a bit of a gray area when we were out there with personal snowmobiles or personal ATVs taking care of it,” explained Hogg.
If you venture out on the Mackenzie trail, you can also help take care of it.
“If you’re out there and you see a problem on the trail, a downed tree or something that would prevent the recreated out use that people like. You can report it to either the Forest Service or Friends of the Mackenzie Trail, and we’ll take care of it,’” said Hogg.
Several improvement projects are happening throughout the Huron-Manistee National Forests this summer, thanks to the great American Outdoors Act.
Some of the projects are expected to cause temporary closures and delayed openings.
Click here for a list of the projects.