TRAVERSE CITY — A group that has been meeting informally — and includes fat tire bikers and cross country skiers — will be included in the Department of Natural Resources’ deliberations in finding a resolution to a dispute that grew this winter between bikers and skiers who use the Vasa.
The group, represented by Mark Esper, the president of the North American Vasa ski race, and Glenn Ruczynski, past president of the Northern Michigan Mountain Biking Association, was looking to get the DNR to approve the construction of a new fat bike trail on the Vasa that could relieve pressure of both user groups on the trail and ease the potential for conflicts like those that occurred this winter — the first year where fat tire bikes were allowed on the Vasa trail.
“Our vision is to accelerate the development of the Vasa area trail system into a nordic ski, fat bike and winter sports destination making it the gold standard for winter recreation in the Midwest,” said Esper. “We feel like we represent the user communities pretty well...we’d like to ask the DNR to fast track this. This could be done, ready to go next winter, but not if it takes a year to approve. Not if it takes six months to approve. There are volunteers who are bikers, there are volunteers who are skiers, who are ready now to go out and start to do what it takes to make this happen in time for next year. Maybe not an entire system in one year, but a darned good start on a system in one year.”
Tim Schreiner, the district supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Division of the DNR, had near unanimous support from the nearly 200 people in attendance to include the group as part of the DNR’s effort to solve the issue, but wasn’t sure it could be done as soon as some were expecting.