Trail projects in Charlevoix and Emmet counties will receive about $1 million in grant funding from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the trust fund board decided Thursday.
The projects focus on the expansion of bike and pedestrian trails for residents and visitors in the Northern Michigan area.
“I think it is because this area has had so much success at developing trails,” said Jeff Winegard, executive director of the nonprofit Top of Michigan Trails Council.“Now I think the investors really see a potential for movement. Success breeds success.”
Winegard said by funding trails the state has recognized potential economic returns in tourism.
“It’s just going to keep growing and growing. I think we have an opportunity to be a real destination for recreational tourism,” he said.
More than $39 million across 99 projects were approved for state grant funding in 2012 from the monies collected from oil and natural gas harvesting on state land.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder called the expenditure“a wise investment in Michigan’s economic future and quality of life.”
After more than eight years of planning and public meetings, Charlevoix County will receive $300,000 to complete a 10-foot wide, 3.2-mile non-motorized recreational trail from Young State Park into downtown Boyne City.
“We’ve seen the success of the Little Traverse Wheelway (connecting Harbor Springs, Petoskey and Charlevoix), and then people come here ask where the bike path is and we have to send them 15 miles away,” said Jim Baumann, executive director of the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce that endorsed the project two years ago.
Baumann said the addition of a recreational trail to the city will help bring additional business downtown, including the 500 daily summer campers at the state park.
The county also recently was told the trail will receive a $565,900 grant in federal transportation enhancement funds. Another $71,000 has previously been pledged by the city of Boyne City, Evangeline Township and a Charlevoix County Community Foundation grant.
Slightly more than $17,000 is still needed in donations for the $954,500 project, but the announcement that the state would be putting in the funding has already stepped up donations.
The Northern Country Bicycle Club pledged $1,500 in proceeds Thursday from summer events and $500 from the president of the club, Paul Servais.
To help collect the donations, the Top of Michigan Trails Council has set up a fund at: The Top of Michigan Trails Council, 445 E. Mitchell St., Petoskey, Mich. 49770
“I think a lot of people were just waiting for the state money to make donations,” Baumann said.
A second phase of the project is also in the planning stages to head east from U.S. 31.
The city of Petoskey was awarded two grants for trail creation by the trust fund board.
The city of Petoskey is recommended to receive $300,000 to create a 10-foot wide concrete path, trail head parking, road crossings, benches, interpretive signs and native seeding for the north segment of its greenway.
A second grant will pay $59,700 to construct a .37-mile paved, accessible non-motorized trail connecting Village Harbor Drive and East Park in Resort Township.
Rep. Frank Foster, R-Pellston, who sponsored legislation to transfer unused state railroad property to the city, applauded the grants.
“The variety and abundance of recreational opportunities that make our communities better to live in, enhance our tourism industry and support our local economy are being upgraded with these grant funds,” Foster said in statement.“Local officials and organizations working with the state to bring these dollars back to us are investing in the future by providing leadership and vision today.”
A major expansion of the Little Traverse Wheelway will also begin work in the near future with the help of a $300,000 grant to create a multi-use recreational rail-trail connecting the communities of Conway, Oden and Alanson to Petoskey and Harbor Springs.
Emmet County approved $100,000 toward the grant match earlier in 2011 for the asphalt path. The money was paid by the county’s restricted trail fund and represents about a 6 percent investment in the overall trail cost of $1.55 million.
A trail head is expected to begin at M-119 near Spring Lake and stop at the Alanson village limits, effectively traversing Bear Creek, Little Traverse and Littlefield townships. The 7-mile trail is the first phase of a larger plan to improve the 35-mile Petoskey to Mackinaw City Trail into a route for summer recreation and snowmobiles in winter.
A second grant for $942,000 has been submitted to Michigan Department of Transportation Enhancement for the largest portion of the trail. An additional $57,000 will also need to be raised.
North Central State Trail
Tuscarora Township in Cheboygan County will also receive $250,900 in grant funding to develop a trailhead for the North Central State Trail— the initial phase of a trail outlining the western end of Burt Lake. The monies will be spend on parking, a trail gateway, landscaping, lighting, benches, trash receptacles, a bike rack and universally accessible restrooms. The 62-mile, crushed-limestone trail connects Mackinaw City to Gaylord.