Off-road safety

ESCANABA – The Sportsmen’s Off-Road Vehicle Associations of three counties are getting ready to host a two-day youth ORV event which will give kids ages 12-16 a chance to learn practical skills and safety and enjoy a 10-mile trail fun ride.

The weekend event will be June 8 in Escanaba and June 9 in the Manistique area.

“This event is intended to engage youth ages 12 to 16 in the enjoyment of Michigan’s motorized trails by building their confidence through a free ORV safety class, practical skills training track and hands-on trail-riding experience,” organizers said in a press release.

Registration is available for all of the activities at Munising High School, Manistique High School, the Manistique Chamber of Commerce and the DNR’s Escanaba Field Office.

The weekend’s activities are being hosted by the Sportsmen’s Off-Road Vehicle Associations of Delta and Alger counties and the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trails Association.

“This is an extension of what we’ve done in the past,” said Tim Kobasic, instructor of the safety class. “It’s all open to the public.”

A skills track was constructed two years ago and use of the track will be combined with the trail ride and safety course, which is being offered with the help of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which is providing safety materials and other assistance.

“This is a chance to bring it all together with an emphasis on safety,” Kobasic said.

Sponsors for the event include Polaris, Cloverland Electric Cooperative and Renze Power Sport, Delta County Community Foundation, Sustainable Forestry Foundation, Dagenais Foundation, Trails & Tales Outdoors Radio and WDBC-AM 680 & WYKX-FM 104.7 radio stations.

The ORV safety class and the practical skills instruction will be held Saturday, June 8 in Escanaba. The safety class will be from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Upper Peninsula State Fairgrounds. Though the class is geared for ages 12-16, organizers said parents are encouraged to attend. Lunch and all class materials will also be provided for free.

Space for the class is limited. Participants registered by today for the safety course will receive a free T-shirt. Bus and van transportation will be provided free of charge for youth from Munising and Manistique, with buses loading in those communities starting at 8 a.m.

The ORV practical skills training will be at the training track from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is located in the red activity building near the DNR Pocket Park at the fairgrounds.

A state Recreation Passport is not required for vehicle entry to this training event. Students are encouraged to bring their own ORV, helmet and eye protection if they have it, but four-wheelers will be available for participants to borrow. The event takes place rain or shine.

From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Sunday, June 9, a free fun ride will take riders from the Jack Pine ORV/snowmobile trailhead in the Hiawatha National Forest to the Thunderbowl Scramble Area, weather permitting. The ride covers a distance of 10 miles.

All riders must have their own all-terrain vehicle, must be at least 12 years old and must have their ORV safety certificate in their possession. A proficiency course will be set up at the Thunderbowl, and instructors, law enforcement and grant sponsors will supervise kids riding the course, organizers said. Lunch will be provided free of charge.

Transportation will not be provided, and participants should arrive early to the Jack Pine trailhead, located along M-94, about 21 miles north of Manistique or 15 miles south of Shingleton. A Recreation Passport is not required for vehicle entry to this training event. The annual ORV sticker is also not necessary for the fun ride on Sunday, because the event is an educational activity.

The weekend’s activities are also scheduled in line with the DNR’s Free Fishing Weekend, which will allow fishing without a license, including waters of the Hiawatha National Forest where the trail ride will be running.

“It’s a great way to discover what’s out there in the Upper Peninsula,” Kobasic said.

Numerous volunteers were recruited to help provide the ORV activities for the kids.

“Every person that’s doing this is volunteering,” Kobasic said.

For more information on the practical skills training or ORV safety class, please contact Tim Kobasic at 399-9298. For more information on the trail ride, contact Dick Musson with the Schoolcraft County Motorized Trails Association at 341-8391.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.