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MI House committee approves horse trail compromise

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network



A state House committee has approved a bill to name a commission that would recommend which state-owned trails are open to horseback riding.

Riders wearing boots and cowboy hats packed the committee room and applauded at the passage of the measure. They say horse and mule riders have been on the losing end of many arguments with skiers, snowmobilers, bikers and hikers as the state has shut down their access to trails

Richard Kleinhardt is with Back Country Horseman. He says there are 80,000 people in Michigan who spend a lot of money on recreational riding.

"Like hunting and fishing, horseback riding is part of our culture," he says. "It's a tradition. It's part of our heritage."

Kleinhardt says opening more trails will also attract riders from other states.

The state Department of Natural Resources and Environment says it closes trails to riding to protect them from damage and to comply with federal rules - but there are still hundreds of miles of trails open to riders.

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