Mounds Of Fun For ORVs

Rules Of The Road

This part is easy. The state of Michigan enforces laws that ORV owners and drivers must obey wherever they ride in-state, and the county parks and recreation commission adds a few of its own rules.

Drivers must wear helmets and eye protection. All ORVs must have a United States Forest Service-approved spark arrester, and the state sets sound-level standards.

Alcohol is not permitted in any of the county parks. Don’t even think about it. Park rangers will issue tickets with fines of up to $100 for violations.

Branding Pays

The parks and recreation commission invested $17,500 on a brand campaign that gave the park an attitude and a personality: “Be afraid. Be very, very, afraid!”

Taking to the trails is a popular activity every day of the year.

In this economy, spending that kind of money might seem a risky move. But the park believed that the diverse and tricky terrain—paired with the park’s well-deserved reputation and enhanced new brand—would catch the eye of advertising agencies and vendors. That assumption paid off.

In fewer than four months, The Mounds generated $20,386 in fees paid by those who used the park for commercial photography, TV ads, and special events to test and showcase their products.

One of the most exciting events was a day-long promotion by a local equipment company that offered potential buyers the opportunity to test-drive a new cross-over utility vehicle. The vendor reported that seven vehicles were sold as a result, at prices ranging from $11,000 to $22,000.

Plans are underway for another event. The fee for any commercial use is $125 per hour. The park remains open for public use when a vendor has contracted to use a part of it. Riders are asked to stay clear of the production areas, and they do. In fact, riders sit on their vehicles and watch the production and admire the work going on like they might watch their child in a school play.

The ORVers are a respectful group, and have a special affinity for the facility.

Operations

Daily management and maintenance are handled by the county parks and recreation commission. Trail maintenance is done by staff and volunteers, and rangers patrol the park. Seasonal ORV specialists staff the entrance booth. Gates at the entrance to the facility and inside as well are periodically closed for dust control and to restrict admittance to the wetlands area from March 15 to May 15.

If We Could Do It All Over Again

Over the years, much input has been gathered from users of the trails and riding areas, so it’s safe to say the park is the best it can be. Surveys from riders echo these thoughts, and their continued comments help fine-tune operations from year to year. The only wish is that there was even more acreage available!

Amy McMillan is the director of the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission. For more information, visit www.geneseecountyparks.org/pages/MoundsORV.

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