DNR awards $515,000 for local Iron Belle Trail projects

Nearly 30 projects spread across 18 different counties will share $515,000 in local funding to push forward trail enhancement projects and connections along Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail.

In an effort to leverage funding to advance progress toward completion of this statewide trail, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has awarded $515,000 in local funding to 28 communities to help develop and enhance it.

Funded projects were eligible to receive up to $30,000 for trail enhancement projects including feasibility studies, preliminary construction, engineering of new trail segments, signage for trail segments and trailheads, environmental impact studies and other uses. For this round of funding, the DNR received 56 applications.

“This is tremendous news for these communities,” said Paul Yauk, state trails coordinator with the DNR. “The Iron Belle Trail is Michigan’s showcase trail; there are so many amazing places that it touches or passes through. As we continue to build these partnerships and make connections, Michigan’s trail users will reap the benefits.”

Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail is the longest state-designated trail in the nation, encompassing more than 2,000 miles of of hiking and biking routes, allowing users to explore pristine forests and cool rivers while connecting big cities to smaller and diverse towns. The trail extends from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. The trail is slated to span 2,019 miles. It is approximately 68 percent completed.

This is the fourth year the DNR has issued grants specifically for Iron Belle Trail development. The department awarded $250,000 in 2015, $350,000 in 2016 and $350,000 in 2017 for a variety of projects, many of which have been completed or are nearing completion.

One of the projects funded is signage for the Falling Waters Trail, south of Jackson. With the money awarded, local trail officials will put up wayfinding signs and trailhead signs. It’s one of several grants awarded for signs that Yauk said will help increase the statewide visibility of the Iron Belle Trail, which passes through 48 Michigan counties and more than 170 parks, forests and public spaces.

“We continue to be amazed at the success of the Iron Belle Trail,” said Mark Vysoky, manager of planning and operations for Jackson County Parks. “This grant will allow us to purchase new entrance signs for our trailhead parking areas and mile marker signs that will delineate the Falling Waters Trail corridor, which is part of the Iron Belle Trail.”

Here is a complete list of the 2018 grant recipients. The numbers on the accompanying map (linked below) correspond to this numbered list:

Orion Township (Oakland County), $30,000 for design
Paint Creek Trailway Commission (Oakland County), $25,000 for signage
Western Gateway Trail Authority (Gogebic County), $19,720 for route planning
Oscoda Township (Iosco County), $27,000 for trail planning
Dickinson Bike Path Group (Dickinson County), $30,000 for planning and signage
Plainfield Township (Iosco County), $30,000 for preliminary engineering
North Central State Trail (Cheboygan and Otsego counties), $25,800 for signage
Ogemaw County Economic Development Corp. (Ogemaw County), $25,000 for feasibility and design
Arenac County Economic Development Corp. (Arenac County), $30,000 for planning
City of Riverview (Wayne County), $25,000 for design
Jackson County Parks (Jackson County), $22,500 for signage
City of Saginaw (Saginaw County), $6,500 for signage
Village of Homer (Calhoun County), $22,000 for engineering and design
Southern Links Trailway (Tuscola County), $25,000 for planning and design
Fraser Township (Bay County), $6,500 for signage
City of Vassar (Tuscola County), $5,000 for signage
Arenac County Economic Development Corp. (Arenac County), $30,000 for planning
City of Flat Rock (Wayne County), $10,500 for signage
AuSable Township (Iosco County), $20,000 for feasibility and engineering
North Country Trail Association (Chippewa County), $10,450 for construction
North County Trail Association (based in Lowell, multiple counties), $4,000 for planning
North Country Trail Association (Newaygo County), $6,500 for design
North County Trail Association/Great Lakes Conservation Corps (multiple counties), $30,000 for construction
North Country Trail Association (Alger and Luce counties), $3,000 for signage
City of Ypsilanti (Washtenaw County), $20,000 for engineering
Washtenaw County, $15,000 for signage
Carrolton Township (Saginaw County), $10,000 for signage
Michigan Department of Natural Resources (statewide project), $530 for signage

Discover more about the Iron Belle Trail at www.michigan.gov/ironbelle.