4 Washtenaw County mountain biking, hiking and parks projects targeted for $ 300,000 state grants

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI – Four Washtenaw County outdoor recreation projects supporting activities like mountain biking, kayaking and hiking are set to receive $ 300,000 each from state funding, thanks to a recommendation from its board of directors and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund’s board of directors selected projects in Ypsilanti, Northfield Township, Superior Township, and Pinckney State Recreation Area, among 117 others, for financial support from the 45-year-old fund, originally built through royalties on fossil fuels and minerals.

In Ypsilanti, state dollars are intended to fuel improvements to Frog Island Park to make a canoe and kayak ramp, parking lot and fishing area accessible to people with reduced mobility.

The Township of Northfield intends to use the funds for the trails and parking of the Northfield Community Park under development, and the Township of Superior wishes to invest the money in the development of a multi-use trail along the Plymouth Road.

The latest of four $ 300,000 grants directed to Washtenaw County will facilitate renovations to the Potawatomi Trail, a popular 17.5-mile hiking and mountain biking trail that brings single-trail enthusiasts to the Recreation Area of Pinckney State north of Dexter.

Those recommendations will now go to the offices of Michigan lawmakers, who will review them before approving the grants, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“As our state navigated a second year amid COVID-19 uncertainty, the importance of green spaces and public recreation facilities became a key focus,” said Dan Eichinger, director of the resource department Michigan Natural Resources, in a statement. Time and time again, Michigan residents and visitors have looked to trails, parks, athletic fields and other welcoming public places where they can get out of their homes, soak up the sun, and connect with their families. and their friends.

Which projects are benefiting from the increased funding for outdoor recreation?

Ypsilanti officials are celebrating the second year in a row that a local project has been named to receive support from the National Outdoor Recreation Fund. Last year, the city received a similar grant for a trail on I-94 at Huron Street, slated for construction in the spring of 2022.

The latest grant could contribute to the Frog Island Park Accessibility Project in Depot Town. This natural area is a key portal to the Border to Border Trail and the Huron River, but most facilities there remain inaccessible to people with disabilities, according to the city.

The canoe and kayak launch ramp, for example, is accessed by a set of concrete steps or a wood chip path, the city said in its December bulletin. Planned upgrades will make this launch, the football track and field, the fishing point and the parking lot accessible, while adding bicycle parking and storm water controls, according to the city.

This concept plan, published in the City of Ypsilanti newsletter for December 2021, shows planned accessibility improvements to Frog Island Park near Depot Town.Extract from the newsletter of the city of Ypsilanti

North of Ypsilanti, some funds from the state’s natural resources fund could also be directed to a segment of a proposed trail along the south side of Plymouth Road, according to Superior Township Supervisor Ken Schwartz.

The path would run between the Dixboro House restaurant to the east and the intersection of Plymouth Road and Dixboro Road near the entrance to the Marshall Nature Area to the west, Schwartz said.

There is a catch to this plan: a landowner along the road refuses to grant an easement for the road, and the township intends to initiate eminent domain proceedings if the state grant is granted. accepted, according to Schwartz.

The short section of the trail would connect with a path along Dixboro Road to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, which in turn connects to a path to Parker Mill County Park, Gallup Park, and the Border to Border Trail. , said Schwartz.

In the future, township leaders will explore the extension of the Plymouth Road trailhead further east to connect it to an existing trail leading to Plymouth, he added.

The trails are also part of the development plans for the Township of Northfield Community Park along Whitmore Lake north of Ann Arbor.

There, the same day the grant recommendations were announced, township park officials heard design presentations from a company selected earlier this year to guide the development of the park, which is part of the North region. Town.

“This is all timely,” Northfield Township Treasurer Jacqueline Otto said at the Township Parks and Recreation Council meeting on December 2. “This is just the start, folks. “

The last of the grants potentially intended for Washtenaw County will remain with the Parks and Recreation division of the MNR and fund improvements to the Pinckney Recreation Area, the agency said.

If approved by the Legislature, the $ 300,000 would be used to continue renovating the Potawatomi, or “Poto,” trail, which has suffered severe erosion in areas that continue to degrade, according to the Potowatomi Mountain Biking Association. .

This group has raised funds to rehabilitate sections of the nature trail, which winds between a series of lakes and is used by cyclists, hikers and cross-country skiers.

The $ 1.2 million recommended for projects in Washtenaw County is just a small slice of the annual pie represented by the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

In total, Michigan’s recreation projects and land acquisitions totaling $ 45.6 million are expected to be funded in 2022 through the program, officials said.

To consult the complete list of projects, Click here.

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