Closing Out ORV and Getting Ready for Snow!

The ORV season is coming to an end with a few feet of snow is already here. We have had trail work running strong right up to opening day of gun hunting season exceeding our brushing and grading goals for this year. The only down side right now is that we need the ground to freeze under this snow for a good grooming base. Either way the snowmobile season looks very promising.
Here is a run-down of happenings over the last few months:

ORV Trail Maintenance
Alger SORVA did brushing and signing on our 48 miles of the Marquette to Manistique ORV Route from Shingleton west to Marquette. This route is common to Snowmobile Trails 8, 7/8, 7 North, 418 and 417. Box grading was also done from Shingleton west to the 417-418 Brownstone Intersection. Other ORV work completed was brushing and signing of our 81 miles of the Pine Ridge and Two-Hearted 50″ ORV Trails in northern Luce County. These are some great riding trails for smaller ATV’s and motorcycles that we have maintained for 15 years now.

Snowmobile Trail Maintenance
We had a great turnout for our brushing day later in October with a big section of Trail 8 north of Shingleton hand brushed. Thanks to everyone that came out and helped, it is greatly appreciated. Outside of that the John Deere 7130 has been running almost every day for the last 10 weeks with grading and mechanized brushing. All of Trail 418, Trail 419 from Munsing to Christmas, Trail 8 from H-13 east to the Doty Bridge and a big section of Trail 8 north of Shingleton has been completed. We have also been coordinating a brushing crew going out every week for hand brushing and a crew dedicated to signage.

Equipment
The Alger SORVA Team has a few little things to wrap up on the grooming equipment and they are ready to go in a few weeks. The new John Deere had a Tech come out for a warranty repair on our track system and a drive shaft seal leak so it is ready now. Alger SORVA’s Pisten Bully and the DNR Program Pisten Bully have returned from Minnesota. We put the repaired front blade wing back on our Pisten Bully so we won’t be grooming with a hand tied behind our back like the closing of last season.

Groomer Building
This is where we still have a lot to do, up until this point trails have been the priority. When grooming starts we will be able put to our work focus into getting the building buttoned up tight and better insulated. We also have a crazy amount of organization needed as we have much of our stuff still in boxes from the move. That has been a little frustrating because machine work has been more time consuming trying to find things. Our 1000 gallon fuel tank just arrived so later this week we will have it placed and wired in with lighting.

SORVA and a Crazy Few Months

Alger SORVA has been quiet on the media and social media outlets but it has been for very busy and good reasons. There are finally a few moments to squeeze in bringing you all up to speed with the latest happenings so here goes:

THE BIG MOVE

Our Alger SORVA Trail Headquarters has moved to the old Iverson’s Snowshoe Factory in Shingleton. Our 3 year lease of the property in Wetmore ended June 1 and it was jut not working out. We ended up selling the “tent” to the property owner which saved us the time of taking it down – thankfully. Definitely this years biggest hurdle behind us now that everything is at the new location and we are now starting to get things organized. Though on the east end of our trails this works much better with a very large building, cement floors and plenty of outdoor cover storage areas. We now have enough inside floor space for all our tractors, summer/winter grooming equipment, maintenance trailer and then some. Right now we are still looking at staging areas in Christmas/Wetmore/AuTrain for the winter grooming months and more efficient covering of the West end. Time will tell but so far the move has been working out great.

NEW EQUIPMENT

JOHN DEERE 7130
Adding to our equipment fleet we now own our old John Deere 7130 for summer ORV grading use. Alger SORVA opted to purchase it instead of trade-in with our new 6175 groomer award this past season. It has needed some attention but is now out grading trails as we speak.
TOYOTA 7FGU30 FORK LIFT
Our best “tool” investment to date, a completely reconditioned Toyota 7FGU30 Fork Lift has been added to the fleet. This 6,000lb lift capacity, outdoor rated machine has been working hard. We also invested in fork extensions, a lifting hook and man-lift basket. This is saving us hours of volunteer time by eliminating the struggle of moving large items. Swapping the tracks for tires on the JD7130 was way easier with the fork lift. We would like to give a special thank you to Bell Fork Lift down in Clinton Township, MI for working out a great deal and meeting us with it at their new facility in Gaylord to split the delivery travel time. The trip worked out good with also helping Trenary Northern Trails by delivering their groomer to Dubie Groomers in Gaylord, our trailer had a load both ways.

INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

This year we took part in the Munising 4th of July Parade. President – Keith took the new John Deere 6175 and Dubie Groomer, while Tyler pulled our Maintenance Trailer with friends in his truck and Amara took a RZR with a bunch of her friends. Celebratory decorations looked great with the shined up machines. Kids were in aw of the huge tractor on tracks. We had a great time and even won a 1st place float award with “Most Unique”.

TRACTOR STATUS

JOHN DEERE 6175R
The new machine needs some warranty work and track system upgrades incorporated by Bader & Sons. One option not working is the air conditioning which had the tractor hotter than hell in the 4th of July Parade. Wont affect our grooming but its a brand new machine. All work is scheduled to be done in early September.
PISTEN BULLY / TRAIL BULLY
The Alger SORVA Pisten Bully is currently in Minnesota getting a go-through. So far one drive motor is shot, a blade wing needs new hinges and the leaking drive wheel that took us down near end-off season has already been repaired. We are waiting for an estimate to get our grant amended and the remaining repairs completed. Hopefully back in the next month or so.
PISTEN BULLY / TRAIL BULLY – Program Machine
The DNR Pisten Bully is also currently in Minnesota getting a complete overhaul. This machine had both drive pumps replaced along with wheel bearings, torsion springs and a few other components along with a full service. Should be a reliable reconditioned machine and we are figuring it will be delivered together with our Pisten Bully when finished. We just need to work on the DNR and SAW Committee to get a dedicated groomer drag for it too. For those who are unaware – this “program machine” is a back-up for clubs in the central upper peninsula when a primary machine goes down. Alger SORVA has volunteered to take it under our grant system, maintain and store it for the DNR. It was originally a trade-in from Grand Marais that Alger SORVA brought over to Wetmore and then died in Seeney covering for another downed machine.
JOHN DEERE 7130 Premium
Our owned tractor has been getting a going through and is now finally out grading trails. Track were swapped for tires and a stubborn, leaking 3 point lift cylinder replaced. We also retro-fitted the three point system with a cylinder to allow “tipping” of our box grader. Being able to do this from the cab during the grading process really makes proper shaping of the trails easier. Hours of time saved too with no more stopping to manually adjust the angle. A special thanks to the Tanglewood in Shingleton for sponsoring this addition.

PROJECTS

GRADING TRAILS
Currently in progress with the JD7130 and entire trail system expected to be completed within the next two to three weeks.
MECHANIZED BRUSHING
Expected to start as soon as grading is completed. The current plan is to be meeting Trenary Northern Trails on the West end to do a trade-off, our box grader for their mechanized brush cutter. We have been very fortunate to have such a great working relationship with our neighbors to the West.

Bad news is our move has delayed getting these two going. If we are lucky they will still get done this season but worst case they will be done in the spring.
TRAIL 419 – Frog Hollow
Installation of remaining 5 culverts and capping of entire 1 mile segment
TRAIL 419 – M28 Connector
Fill and grade segment between Alger Heights Road and the Alger County Road Commission. Build-up approaches at Alger Heights Road for safer snowmobile and groomer crossings.

BRUSHING and SIGNING
Spring ORV trail maintenance was completed on the Marquette to Manistique Trail along with the Pine Ridge and Two-Hearted Trails in Luce County.
Summer maintenance on them is to be scheduled in the next few days.
We are still trying to get back on track with scheduling so stay tuned for notice of brushing and signing dates, we are always open to additional volunteer help that we feed well.

EDUCATION
We would like to congratulate our hard working member Tyler Graves for his completion and certification as an official ORV Safety Instructor. We now have three certified ORV instructors and are working on adding Snowmobile Instructor Certs to that. Our plan is to start scheduling some much needed classes for both closer to the Munising area.

That pretty much covers the highlights of the last 4 months, stay tuned as we try and be much more expedient on sharing what is happening with Alger SORVA in the North Central U.P.

Equipment Upgrade and Adding to the Fleet

An exciting day here in Munising, the new John Deere 6175R with Zuidberg Tracks arrived as a workhorse addition to our fleet just before the winter storm hit. We will be building a brush guard and get everything set with the controls and the groomer this weekend. If everything goes as planned we will have it out on the trails early next week. Now having the proper tools we are looking forward to efficiently grooming trails and covering much more ground. No more problems pulling in corners and knocking down moguls with the 8-way blade, something that the old 7130 was lacking.

Thanks to everyone that helped get it unloaded, especially Al for using his backhoe from the Tanglewood to unload and stack the tires for us. Also thanks to Mike from Bader & Sons for going through the basics.

The old John Deere 7130R was to be traded in but we chose to make a purchase and keep it in the fleet. Our primary reasoning was to have it as our own machine so it can be used for summer ORV Trail grading. Though not the best for winter grooming, we will also be able to use on high traffic days as a third machine. All off-season trail preparation and brushing will be done with the old 7130 so the new machine can stay out of the dirt and in showroom condition.

We are proud of the great progress we have made with our area trails in such a short time. There is still a lot to do but slowly acquiring the proper useful equipment makes this volunteer time go much further.

Get out and enjoy our trails year round and be sure to thank our sponsors – RIDE SAFE!

 

Trail 419 Reaches a BIG Point in Restoration!

STAGE TWO OF A THREE YEAR FROG HOLLOW PROJECT COMPLETED

Mother nature has not let us start grooming yet but we have taken advantage of that. Working with our DNR Field Contact and our Contractor, Gerou Excavating, we were able to extend restoration work on Trail 419 just North of Munising. The infamous Frog Hollow with it’s two miles of water crossings and bogs with bottomless waterholes has been crossed with a preliminary trail. This second year project had (11) culverts and (1) stone drainage pocket installed.  The entire length of this section was also bladed with a bulldozer so it is opened up and completely passable with a groomer, no more freezing in needed. This is a great example of your trail sticker money at work with $60,000 of Snowmobile Grant Funding put in over the last two years. We are very excited to get this trail opened up for the snowmobile season, all we need now is the SNOW!
For now,  to keep restoration moving forward, we will continue to have this section closed to wheeled vehicles for one more year. Next summers last stage of restoration is being done with our awarded 2019 Snowmobile Grant. This last phase involves (6) culverts, (4) stone drainage pockets, hardening up the last few soft spots and capping of 1 1/2 miles of the trail. When completed, Trail 419 will be one of our premier, year-round, multi-use trails through the hills of Munising. Now let the snow fall so you can check it out!
A LITTLE ABOUT FROG HOLLOW:
The section of Trail 419 starts at the end of Brook Street in Munising heading toward Christmas. This is a very scenic and steep, hilly section of trail with water crossings at each valley and a long section of low-land. In the summer the low-land area is very wet with a harder surface that, once broken through, is seemingly bottomless. Over the years holes have greatly increased in size from trucks and orv’s traveling through. The past 9 years have had the Grizzly Pit at one location which regularly eats orv’s, trucks and even a John Deere groomer and its recovery bulldozer at one time. We started restoration work 4 years ago with repairing a badly washed out hill on the West end and in 2017, we reconstructed a half mile section from there heading East. The costly part of restoration has been two miles of hilly trail that needs to be traveled to get material in and usually washed out before work begins. We were also seeing summer vehicle traffic (trucks and orv’s) causing more damage than we were repairing during this time. In 2018 we closed the trail to wheeled vehicles with permission from the land owners. This was a good move because it allowed us to get where we are today with a passable snowmobile trail. Funding has been a challenge because it is private CFR land. We cannot use orv restoration grants on private land to repair the damage they are causing. We are in the process of presenting a trail proposal to the DNR making it a multi-use Snowmobile/ORV Trail though. The only hold-up right now is MDOT approval for running along the M-28 State Hwy. Once designated, orv grant funding will be available for improvements and maintenance on all of Trail 419.

(Slide show includes before and after pictures of some of the worst areas – enjoy!)

Stay tuned for updates with SORVA of Alger County, Trails and the 2018-19 Snowmobile Season.
Let’s get this season moving – Sled Safe!

Started Strong but………

We have been trying to stay productive with Mother Nature still dragging her feet. Grooming has yet to start but we have been keeping busy prepping trails, finishing up projects and working on equipment.

NEW GROOMER TRACTOR – update
Exciting news – our NEW John Deere 6175R arrived at the dealer with pictures sent to us (in slide-show). Delivery is still expected early to mid January. Prepping will start but they are waiting for the Zuidberg Tracks and Front 3-point Blade Mount to arrive from the Netherlands. We can’t wait to try her out!

CENTRAL U.P. STAND-BY GROOMER – update
After a successful drive of the Pisten Bully / Trail Bully from Grand Marais to the White Fawn Lodge, our mechanic Jacob was able to give it a preliminary inspection. The primary fix is putting the new tracks on. There is a long list of little things it needs along with a few hydraulic lines replaced but it will hopefully be usable in the next week or so, provided there are no surprises when he checks the drive pump pressures. Thanks again to George and the White Fawn Lodge for use of their garage facilities for the restoration.
The current New Holland Sur-Trac back-up machine was taken on a demo run with its soon to be new owners today. Followed by a trip to Baraga for a M.U.P.S.A. meeting and picking up of a spare set of tires and wheels for it. It has some understood welding to be done and a few minor repair items to address and she will be ready to go. She is expected to be leaving on a low-boy in a few weeks which will be good with the new machine coming. (back-up Bully and Sur-Trac are in slide-show)

LAST MINUTE PREPARATION AND PROJECTS
George has us all set up with off-road fuel and we are ready to go – as soon as snow falls again. With the delay in needed weather, our contractor on Trail 419 just North of Munising is wrapping up culvert installation in the dreaded Frog Hollow bog. The Grizzly Pit is no more so we will be able to open the trail up on time every year now. Operator Chris also used our Pisten Bully / Trail Bully to push and shape a few loads of gravel on Trail 419 between Munising and Wetmore. There was a large washout the width of a side-by-side ORV, too wide to run a groomer over and pack in.

SAW and MSA BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETINGS IN MUNISING
Foggy’s Steakhouse in Christmas was once again host for both the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup meeting and Michigan Snowmobile Association Board of Directors meeting this past week. Both meetings went well with great attendance from across the state. From the state end in the SAW meeting there is good news with additional funding available for more equipment and trail infrastructure. With the MSA meeting, Alger SORVA mentioned the importance of a re-route of Trail 422 to Miners Castle off of H-58. Hopefully the needed bridge is considered with the additional funding available. We were also lucky enough to have our trails panned with enough snow for everyone to get out and enjoy an early season ride between the meetings.

Stay tuned for updates with SORVA of Alger County, Trails and the 2018-19 Snowmobile Season.
Let’s get this season moving – Sled Safe!