A total of eight waterways were selected in December as part of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) new water trails program. Among those chosen was the Middle Grand River Water Trail, one of the first waterways in Michigan to be state-designated water trail.
The DNR has spent the last several months working to create the water trails program and reached its goal of announcing the first designations in 2018.
“Outdoor recreation-based tourism is experiencing major growth right now,” said Paul Yauk, DNR’s state trails coordinator. “Designating these rivers as official water trails shines an even brighter light on some incredible natural resources. We fully expect that offering – and expanding – water trail opportunities in Michigan will encourage more outdoor recreation and healthier lifestyles, and also serve as regional destinations that will give a boost to local economies.”
To apply, local water trail organizations had to show proof of established water trail plans addressing safety, stewardship, historic and cultural resources, educational opportunities, funding and development among other components.
Along with the Middle Grand River Water Trail, which extends 87 miles throughout Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, and Ionia counties, the DNR and the Office of the Great Lakes’ first round of designations included the Flint River Trail in Genesee and Lapeer counties; the Shiawassee River Trail in Genesee, Oakland, Saginaw, and Shiawassee counties; and the Upper Grand River Water Trail in Eaton, Ingham, and Jackson counties, just to name a few.
“The connectivity and accessibility of our region’s water trails and amenities greatly improve the quality of life of Greater Lansing’s residents and visitors and make our region a more competitive place to live and play,” said Cliff Walls, Tri-County’s environmental sustainability planner. “A larger, vetted state program offers an incredible economic value to the state, and this designation is a terrific opportunity to promote our region as a recreational river destination that complements our broader trails system. We expect the water trail development plan will also strengthen future grant applications for projects aiming to improve user experience, safety, and access of the river.”
The Middle Grand River Water Trail Development Plan is available at www.mitcrpc.org/watertrails.