Horseback riding bill may cost state millions in federal aid
State lawmakers are considering legislation that would open more state owned land to horseback riding. But the proposal could also end up costing Michigan millions of dollars in federal grant money.
The state House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation committee is scheduled to discuss the horseback riding bill Wednesday. The bill’s sponsor says opening up more state parkland to horseback riding could increase tourism.
But Erin McDonough says the state could lose $25 to 30 million in federal grant money. McDonough is the executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. The federal grant money is intended to promote hunting and McDonough says increasing horseback riding would negatively affect land the state bought for hunting.
"There’s a way to have a balance. And there’s a way for everybody to have recreational opportunities on all those lands," says McDonough.
McDonough says supporters of the bill do not believe federal officials will follow through with a threat to cut the grant funding.
Michigan has approximately 80 thousand recreational horseback riders using around 25 hundred miles of trails around the state.