participants study a map for trail opportunities
left- Patty O'Donnell of NWMCOG; center- Jim Clark, Lake County Commissioner, right- Les Russell, National Forest Service
In other words, MDOT wants to help build and connect trails. Trails as transportation corridors can include uses such as hiking, bicycling, skiing, rollerblading, horseback riding, etc. Not all trails have to be multi-use, but they must be non-motorized to be included in this plan. The pool of funds available to build trails requires that the trails funded have connections which allow it to serve as a transportation corridor. For example, children might use this path to walk or ride bikes to school.
This week, Patty O'Donnell, the Regional Planner for the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, met on separate occasions with representatives from Manistee, Mason and Lake Counties. At each meeting the individuals pored over a large county map which showed available trails. People were then encouraged to wield colored markers and use their imaginations to dream and mark up the map with a wish list of non-motorized trail connections.
There were 12 local representatives, mostly from the various townships, who participated in the Mason County meeting. High on their wish list was extension of the Hart-Montague Rail Trail to Ludington, and making it possible to bicycle safely from downtown Ludington to Scottville, and to West Shore Community College.
At the Lake County meeting District 6 Commissioner, Jim Clark, and Les Russell of the Manistee National Forest dreamed of providing more trails within the National Forest, and extending the Pere Marquette Rail Trail of Mid-Michigan west from Baldwin.
The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (NWMCOG) will take this information and prepare for and host educational meetings with the public to document interest in these projects, and it will then prepare for and facilitate a regional Trails Summit.
The NWMCOG includes Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelenau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford Counties.
Funding for projects will come from Transportation Enhancement money. These funds are now known as SAFETEA-LU. Not all trail projects are eligible to use these funds, but many are, and better use of this resource would enhance recreation throughout the area.
by Joan H. Young
See Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
learn more about Transportation Enhancement money at American Hiking Society
Contact Patty O'Donnell, Regional Planner, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments
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See Mason County
See Lake County