July 29, 2015 - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has awarded 16 grantees in 15 counties a total of $249,190 to develop Michigan’s newest (and longest) trail, the Iron Belle. Each grant recipient was awarded up to $25,000 for planning, engineering and design projects along either the hiking route or the bicycle route of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail. The funds were part of the 2015 budget for the nonmotorized trail program.
The DNR has selected projects throughout the state that will develop the trail network and further Michigan’s reputation as the Trails State. The following is a list of counties where trail projects will be funded (recipients of the grants), award amounts and brief descriptions of the projects:
- Shelby Township (Macomb County) - $20,000 to design and build a 10-foot-wide, nonmotorized asphalt trail that eventually will provide a connection from the existing trail in River Bends Park to Gene Shepherd Park in Shelby.
- Brandon/Groveland Township (Oakland County) - $14,800 to conduct a route-planning study for 5.5 miles of trail through Brandon Township and 1 mile through Groveland Township. The project includes cost estimates, right-of-way meetings, public meetings and mapping.
- Frankenlust Township (Bay County) - $25,000 to complete asphalt paving of approximately 1 mile of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail.
- Plainfield Township (Iosco County) - $18,500 to conduct a route-planning study to connect Plainfield Township trail to a segment of the Iron Belle.
- Crawford County Road Commission (Crawford County) - $25,000 to conduct preliminary engineering for a 40-mile trail connecting North Higgins Lake State Park, the city of Grayling, Hartwick Pines State Park and Otsego Lake State Park.
- County of Otsego (Otsego County) - $20,000 to develop alternatives for a downtown trailhead along the Iron Belle.
- City of Gladstone (Delta County) - $25,000 to complete engineering on 2.5 miles of Little Bay de Noc Trail, which will connect to the Iron Belle and provide access to waterfront in Delta County, as well as viewing and fishing platforms for trail users.
- Michigan Western Gateway Trail Authority (Gogebic County) - $25,000 to fund 4.2 miles of engineering assistance for trail from Ironwood to Bessemer on existing railroad grade. Four bridges also require decking and handrail upgrades.
- County of Marquette (Marquette County) - $14,500 to build and maintain new and existing sections of trail. Labor to be provided through Superior Watershed Partnership and Great Lakes Conservation Corps.
- Tahquamenon Falls State Park (Chippewa County) - $3,300 to build a 250-foot, raised walkway on North Country National Scenic Trail.
- City of Petoskey (Emmet County) - $10,000 to build a pedestrian bridge over Bear River on North Country National Scenic Trail, connecting the Petoskey River Road Sports Complex trail system to the North Central Michigan College Natural Area trail system.
- North Country Trail Association (Kalamazoo County) - $3,200 to build a 30-foot bridge in Fort Custer Recreation Area, beginning fall 2015.
- North Country Trail Association (Kalamazoo County) - $5,890 to replace 350 feet of existing type 1 puncheon materials in Fort Custer National Cemetery, improving safety and accessibility.
- City of Jackson (Jackson County) - $15,000 to conduct a route-planning study through downtown Jackson, considering safety, cost, constructability and easement availability.
- North Country Trail Association (Calhoun County) - $9,000 to secure private property easements along the hiking route of the Iron Belle.
- Downriver Linked Greenways (Wayne County) - $15,000 to conduct a gap analysis to better understand the proposed route’s condition, prioritize construction and make plans for trail completion.
All projects are required to meet ADA requirements and projects on the bicycle route are required to use AASHTO design standards.
For more information about any project, please contact DNR state trails coordinator Paul Yauk at 517-284-6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Public Act 84 or 2015 appropriates $350,000 for Iron Belle Trail grants in fiscal year 2016. Applications for those grants will be available in November 2015, should funding remain available at that time.
To learn more about Michigan trails and sign up for trail email updates, visit www.michigan.gov/dnrtrails. From here, visitors can learn more about the Iron Belle Trail, including printing regional maps, learning about events, signing up for Iron Belle email updates and exploring the interactive trail map.