Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Trail 2 rerouted from Ramsay to Wakefield

Ribbon cutting planned for Saturday

RAMSAY - A rerouting of snowmobile Trail 2 between Ramsay and Wakefield was expected to be complete today, with a ribbon cutting set for Saturday at 10 a.m.

The event will take place in Ramsay where the trail crosses South Verona Road, between Railroad Street and the point where Main Street becomes Horseshoe Bend.

"We're pretty pumped," said Steve Hamilton, president of the Gogebic Range Trail Authority, on Monday. "We're all pretty happy."

Hamilton said the nearly 4-mile rerouting - which was necessary when a major landowner pulled access to the original route in mid-September - required "a real commitment" on the part of numerous volunteers and governmental officials.

"The positive news is that snowmobiling does matter here, a lot," added Hamilton in a Tuesday email. He noted that participating individuals and entities "rushed to gather around a solution and take swift action" and emphasized that "snowmobiling, much like Nordic and Alpine skiing, is a cornerstone of our economic viability and a tremendous quality-of-life generator for those who are blessed to live here."

On Dec. 8, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources released an official announcement regarding the new route.

"A trail reroute agreement has been reached in Gogebic County that will allow an important snowmobile trail segment to remain open this winter," stated the release.

"This is great news for snowmobiling and the communities that rely on its economic lifeblood in the western Upper Peninsula," said Ron Yesney, U.P. trails coordinator with the DNR's Parks and Recreation Division. "We will continue to work on establishing this route in concert with our numerous partners involved in this effort."

The DNR announcement noted that the September closure of the original route eliminated trail access between Wakefield and Ironwood.

The DNR and GRTA reported that the Gogebic County Road Commission, the city of Wakefield and Bessemer Township provided significant help in the rerouting process.

"Key to finding the reroute solution were private landowners Cory and Sandra Leuzzo, who granted permission for the trail to be rerouted over their property," claimed the DNR.

According to the DNR, the reroute will run south of U.S. 2 and will include a portion running alongside Old U.S. 2 and Wakefield's Cemetery Road.

"The city of Wakefield and Bessemer Township both retained the right to cancel their permits for the trail reroute with 14 days notice," Yesney said. "The trail permissions will stay in place as long as the trail remains safe and conflicts between motorists and snowmobiles along Old U.S. 2 and Cemetery Road do not occur."

Hamilton emphasized on Tuesday that Yesney and DNR Conservation Officer Jenni Hanson provided crucial assistance in the reworking of the trail.

He added that, if the Leuzzos had not expressed their desire to help to GRTA Board Member Victor Braun and others, "we would not be at this incredible juncture that we are today." 

In terms of the groundwork needed to enact the project, Hamilton added, "Jerry Nezworski our (GRTA) VP and trail boss, has worked 50 hours weekly since October on this project and many others. Without his volunteer time, this project would be months away yet."

Moreover, said Hamilton, "The city of Wakefield governmental staff has been another pillar of success to create this trail. Without (City) Manager Robert Brown's attention to this crisis, we again wouldn't be where we are today. The (GCRC) was also a landowner to host this rerouted trail, and without their support we again wouldn't have this connector." 

Hamilton credited many other volunteers who also helped.

Overall, concluded Hamilton, "It's been amazing to see the tri-city community rally around the loss and change the story to a positive one. "

Nezworski has posted regular updates of the rerouting process on GRTA's Facebook page.

The work has included earlier trail brushing, along with bulldozing this week.

Hamilton told The Globe that many area snowmobile trails are now open, but added that some trails, such as Nos. 160 and 11S, still awaited the proper base of ice and snow as of Monday.

On Sunday, GRTA reported more than 70 inches of snow so far this season, with a 12-inch base on the ground. A Wednesday snowstorm was expected to add to the count.

"We are looking at a fantastic storm this week that should flip the switch to great trail conditions overnight," said Nezworski in a Tuesday post on Facebook. "Stay Tuned. Trail Boss out."

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