Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials are preparing to reopen some recreation trail areas of Houghton County that were hit hard by heavy rains on June 17. The rains did significant damage to DNR-maintained ATV and snowmobile trails in the Houghton-Hancock area.
A Michigan DNR incident management team responding to the recovery effort spent several days performing initial damage inspections, closing trail access points, and cleaning plugged culverts, according to Brian Mensch, incident commander for the team. 150 washouts were documented, with resources coming from the Michigan DNR Parks and Recreation Division, Forest Resources Division, Law Enforcement Division, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Trail damage that could be repaired with the need for engineering or additional permits was performed as quickly as possible. “We had to close about 60 miles of DNR recreation trails in Houghton County, but some of the trail segments that had less damage are already repaired and graded. After some final safety inspections, we’ll be ready to open those segments back up for public use,” said Jeff Kakuk, western U.P trails specialist for the Parks and Recreation Division.
The Michigan DNR was able to open the 23-mile stretch of trail from South Range heading south to the Houghton-Ontonagon county line by July 1st. While some DNR trail segments have been or are nearly restored, others will take much longer to repair because of massive washouts and difficult access for heavy equipment, said Kakuk. “The most-significant damage is along the Lake Linden Trail, which has been closed from the Portage Lift Bridge in Hancock to Normand Road, near Lake Linden.”
Preliminary estimates have placed the cost to repair washouts, replace culverts and resurface trails to be just under $20 million.
“Our goal is to have the Bill Nicholls trail south of Houghton and the trail from Hancock to Calumet completely back in shape by this winter’s snowmobiling season,” he said. “The Freda grade (South Range to Freda), much of the Lake Linden grade, and the Houghton to Chassell grade will take a lot longer.”