Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TART Trail May Get Tunnel

South Airport Road Traverse City Michigan
South Airport Road, Traverse City, Michigan (from a TV 7&4 video)

based on a news stories from Tunnel under South Airport Road? , and Study results take a closer look at trail plan

"South Airport Road is 'The Wall,' stated Ted Okerstrom, one of the planners and proponents of a tunnel to take the Traverse Area Recreation Trails (TART) underneath the busy street, which is currently the barrier separating the TART system from the Boardman River Trail.

TART Executive Director, Julie Clark, says, “The tunnel provides the most access to the most types of user; skiers, hikers, bikers and even canoeists can use it.” This plan places the tunnel along the Boardman River Trail, providing a connection between the whole TART system and the Boardman River system.

This connection would provide downtown Traverse City residents, pedestrians, bicyclists, and skiers off-road access to Grand Traverse County's athletic fields, Nature Education Reserve and the Boardman River valley.

Funding stands as the biggest challenge, but Traverse Trails is planning to apply for grant money. The project is a partnership between City of Traverse City, Charter Township of Garfield, Grand Traverse County, Sara Lee, and Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc.

See Traverse Trails
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Volunteers Needed for Karner Blue Monitoring

alt text
male and female Karner Blue butterflies (photo from the National Forest Service)

from Heather Keough, District Wildlife Biologist USDA Forest Service

The Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District, located in western lower Michigan, is looking for volunteers to assist with monitoring and management activities for the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly in 2011. Volunteers are needed to help conduct surveys between late June and early August to assess the status of Karner blue butterfly populations, and evaluate the effectiveness of different management strategies for restoring Karner blue butterfly habitat. There are opportunities for individuals of all skill levels to participate. Training will be provided. Interested parties can volunteer during weekdays, for a few days, or a week or more. Limited mileage reimbursement and/or housing may be available upon request.

Volunteer participation has allowed the Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District to dramatically increase its management and monitoring activities for the Karner blue butterfly. The volunteers, partners, and U.S. Forest Service personnel that have made the Karner blue butterfly recovery program a success were recently recognized for their achievements with the receipt of two prestigious national awards: Wings Across the Americas Award for Butterfly Conservation, and Making Tracks with the Forest National Award for outstanding accomplishments in the Habitat Management Program. To those who volunteered during past field seasons, thank you and congratulations! Your participation made these awards possible!

The assistance of volunteers is vital to meet our recovery goals! Please choose to volunteer this year and help conserve a locally endangered species. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the 2011 field season, please contact me at 231-745-4631 x 3111 or

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Adaptive Bike Trail Being Built at Challenge Mountain

adaptive bike
adaptive bike (photo from Kids Wish Network)

based on a news article in the Petoskey News

Kids with special needs will have one more place to enjoy the outdoors, possibly as soon as this summer, thanks to Challenge Mountain

Challenge Mountain, a non-profit organization based in Boyne City, Michigan, is dedicated to enriching and improving lives for the mentally and physically challenged through outdoor recreation.

They already provide opportunities for kids with special needs to ski, using special equipment to adapt to each special situation in the least restrictive manner possible. Now, board member Bob South says, "The end result we’re shooting for is having an adaptive trail where kids can learn mountain bike skills. It has to be adaptive for kids who have never ridden before and for kids with a variety of disabilities."

South has been planning the adaptive trail for about twelve years. On March 15, volunteers began walking the Challenge Mountain property to being choosing a route for the trail. A skills course of about 1.5 miles will be the first project.

Coupled with the trail building, a separate committee will work on raising the money needed to acquire a variety of adaptive bikes for kids to use. Such bikes are often custom built, and can be quite expensive. In addition to bikes which can be powered by a single child, some bikes will be special tandems, and other will be bikes with side-cars.

See XChallenge Mountain
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Free Map of Michigan Multi-Use Trails

Michigan Multi-use Trail Map

from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

As of January 2011, a new map of Michigan's multi-use trails is available. For a free copy of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Map and Directory send a self addressed stamped (.61 or 2 first class stamps) business size envelope to:

MTGA Trail Map
PO Box 27187
Lansing, MI 48909

If you prefer an interactive online map, go to: Michigan Trails Finder

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Monday, April 11, 2011

1700 More Acres Protected in Pere Marquette Watershed

forest stream
Elliott property (photo by Tim Johnson)

condensed from the Spring 2011 Newsletter of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan

The protection of the free-flowing Pere Marquette River continued in 2010 as two more families protected their land by creating conservation easements with the Land Conservancy.

The Elliott family created an easement of 136 acres which helps protect the resident trout and migratory salmon and steelhead that use the Pere Marquette along their stretch of the river.

Wildlife benefits too. "They tell me that bobcats are nocturnal, but I see them throughout the night and day," notes Craig Elliott. There is also an active bald eagle’s nest in a tall white pine overlooking the river on the property.

A small stream originates within a cedar grove and runs through a majority of the Elliott property before flowing onto adjacent Michigan DNR land. By protecting their property with a conservation easement, the Elliotts have ensured that this stream will continue to be a cold-water feeder stream to the Pere Marquette.

Upstream of the Elliott property, the Lewis family has also made the permanent commitment of a conservation easement to protect their 17 acres along the Middle Branch of the Pere Marquette. The Middle Branch is known for its brown trout population. Because of surrounding open space, the Lewis property is frequented by bobcat, white-tail deer and black bear.

"We strongly believe that we don’t truly own the land, but are merely caretakers for coming generations," states Eric Lewis as he reflects on the desire of placing the property into a conservation easement.

See Land Conservancy of West Michigan
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Several Western Michigan State Forest Campgrounds to Close

Michigan State Forest campground
State Forest Campground (photo by jhy)

based on a news release of the Michigan DNR

With all the budget pain in Michigan, some State Forest Campgrounds are going to suffer. Ones that are "underutilized" will be closed, 23 of them. These are all campgrounds that have few amenities, and therefore attract fewer campers. Of course, if you are one of the people who really prefers to get away from the crowds, this news is not going to be good.

Most of the closures are in the Upper Peninsula, but Lower Michigan is not exempt. To be closed:
• Cheboygan County: Black Lake Trail Camp
• Crawford County: Manistee River Bridge
• Lake County: Bray Creek
• Montmorency County: Little Wolf Lake State Forest Campground
• Oscoda County: McCollum Lake State Forest Campground
• Otsego County: Pigeon Bridge and Round Lake
• Wexford County: Long Lake

Cara Boucher, assistant chief of the DNR's Forest Management Division, said, "Given the long-term trend of declining use and the inability to raise camp fee revenues, the only way to absorb the current cut in General Fund support is to close some campgrounds."

The order to close the 23 campgrounds will be submitted as a proposal at today's Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting in Lansing, and will be eligible for action by DNR Director Rodney Stokes at the NRC's May 12 meeting in Flint. If approved at the May meeting, the closures would be effective on May 19, 2011.

It's difficult to imagine how much this will save. The only services provided are usually latrines and a hand pump. Admittedly, these need to be serviced in the spring and fall, but surely the high-performing campsites could cover some costs for the smaller sites.

It's difficult to imagine how future generations will learn how to enjoy nature when more and more places that are close to natural are closed each year.

See Natural Resources Commission Agenda for April 7, 2011
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