DNR Decision on Proposed Variance for Newport Horse Trails

Our thanks to everyone who submitted feedback (Aug/Sept 2023) to the DNR regarding the Master Plan variance for the proposed development of horse trails in Newport State Park. (Backstory and NWS opinion on this issue here.)

Synopsis of DNR Decision (Jan 5, 2024)

The department has decided NOT TO APPROVE these first three elements of the variance:

  1. Increase the mileage of authorized equestrian trails from “4 to 6” miles to “up to 10 miles.”
  2. Allow equestrian trails to be sited throughout Management Area 2, not just the northern portion of this area.
  3. Allow equestrian use to be co-located on hiking and hiking/biking trails in Management Areas 1 and 2 where it will improve the efficiency of the trail network and will not substantially detract from existing uses.

The department has decided TO APPROVE the fourth component, which will allow the construction of a new parking lot to accommodate up to six vehicle-horse trailers, added toilet facilities, 4 to 6 hitching posts, and a mowed grassy area in a former gravel pit on Newport Lane.

Links to DNR documents related to this issue, which contain 1) the variance proposal and background information, 2) synopsis of feedback from the public, and 3) final decision and rationale:

1) 2023-08 | Proposed Variance for Equestrian Trails
2) 2023-11-10 | Summary of Public Input
     2a) 2023-11 | Detailed comments submitted via email/phone
     2b) 2023-11 | Copies of letters submitted
3) 2024-01-05 | Final Decision and Rationale