Congressmen Moolenaar, Benishek Tour Trails, Snowmobile Hot Spots

February 19, 2016
In The News

BOON — For those who live in Northern Michigan and in particular the Cadillac area, the hum of snowmobiles is commonplace.

While it usually signifies Mother Nature has left a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, to many businesses in the region, that constant hum sounds like money. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar and U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek were in the area touring the local trail system as well as to find out about how they could possibly help ensure the area continues to thrive as a snowmobiler destination. U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga also was supposed to be on the ride, but was unable to participate due to the death of his father.

Michigan Snowmobile Association Executive Director Bill Manson said the current ride, which featured stops in Mesick, Boon and Hoxeyville on Thursday, marked the fourth time the group has taken out congressmen. Manson said it started when they took out Huizenga.

“He is an avid snowmobiler and he wanted to go out and check out Michigan trails,” Manson said. “The next year, we included Congressman Benishek, and now with Rep. John Moolenaar, all three districts, 1st, 2nd and 4th, come together across Lake, Wexford and Manistee. It was just a perfect fit to get them out to see snowmobiling and what organized snowmobiling is about.”

Manson said this year, his organization is focused on working with the Department of Natural Resources to possibly open up the railroad grade from Copemish, to Mesick and Yuma. There is an issue with a bridge that will take roughly $750,000 to make usable for hiking, biking and snowmobiling.

Moolenaar said he found this ride important as he learned about how the trails and snowmobiling affect the local economy.

“We had the opportunity to visit a bridge (Thursday) in Mesick that needs to be fixed and redone and looking at the way the federal, state and local government can partner to enhance regional attraction for tourism and recreation throughout Northern Michigan,” Moolenaar said.

Crossroads Trailblazers Snowmobile Club Vice President Jeff Saylor said getting that bridge opened will be huge in benefiting the entire area and tourism. It would connect the Benzie and Cadillac trail systems as well as area businesses to snowmobilers from Copemish all the way to Cadillac.

“We started 14 years ago with Al Green trying to get the rail removed in hopes of getting the trail done,” Saylor said. “I think we can see now we have the possibility to have it happen. We need (the congressmen’s) help and they have shown good faith in being here. It is not just for the bridge, but also other trail improvements.”