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Networking Michigan With Trailways Brochure
Imagine starting from home and, within a few blocks, getting on a trail system that stretches hundreds of miles across Michigan, taking you as far as you want to go. Imagine this trail system passing through your community, bringing not only healthful recreation but also bolstering the local economy as trail patrons stop to eat in your restaurants, purchase items at your shops or visit other local attractions. Imagine a ribbon of green where trees tower, wildflowers bloom and wildlife flourishes. Imagine the children of your community having a safe place to bike, walk or rollerblade, surrounded by the natural resources they learn about in school.
Sound good? It's calledthe Michigan Trailway System. And it's becoming a reality.
The 1993 Michigan Trailways legislation calls for a statewide system of land corridors passing through Michigan's communities and countryside, featuring broad, smooth-surfaced trails perfect for many activities and accessible to everyone. Trailways follow inactive railroad lines, shorelines and other corridors. Linking together wherever possible, the statewide network of trailways will connect our communities, parks, public lands and natural resources. This network has potential to encompass hundreds of miles of trailways, creating a web of activity that stretches from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan, from our southernmost counties to the Mackinac Straits and across the Upper Peninsula.
So why build this network of trails? Across Michigan and nationwide, enthusiasm for trailways is growing. Trailways are becoming more popular in part because they are different from other recreation opportunities.A trailway takes you somewhere.
But trailways are more than just a way to get from place to place. Open to many modes of travel, they take you through the entire range of Michigan environments including forests, wetlands, river and lake shorelines, farmlands, shopping areas, residential areas and even industrial areas.
Now, imagine a trailway in your community.This brochure tells you how to start the process, details the extensive benefits of the system and shows you the impacts existing trailways are having in towns like yours all around Michigan.
Where Can a Michigan Trailway Take YOU?
This vision of a trailway network is truly a collaborative effort. Passage of the trailways legislation was supported by a broad coalition of agencies and organizations. Now, dozens of "trailmakers"--agencies, organizations, communities and citizen groups across Michigan--are working to make the vision a reality. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is coordinating this effort. The legislation empowers the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to formally designate a trail as a "Michigan Trailway."
Benefits of Michigan Trailway designation
This designation offers a number of benefits to trail users, trail managers and the community.
•The state and its cooperators will promote and publicize the trailway as part of the system. The increased use, particularly by non-residents will encourage visitation to the communities along the trail, bringing in new dollars to bolster the local economy.
•The Michigan Trailway "seal of approval" will mean the public can be confident the trailway meets appropriate design standards, with all trails having similar benefits and features.
•Michigan residents will become more aware of the exciting opportunities this system offers for enjoyable, healthful recreation, and for an alternative transportation network.
•Financial assistance from the Michigan Trailways Fund may be available for development and management of the trail.
•As the Michigan Trailway system expands and becomes more widely known, Michigan's image as a leader for quality outdoor recreation will improve, drawing more visitors who will benefit our state's tourism economy.
Features of a Michigan Trailway
In order to be designated a Michigan Trailway, a trail must be:
•Multi-use and accessible to people with disabilities.
•Designed with a smooth, firm and stable surface to accommodate most recreation traffic.
•Designed with infrequent intersections with streets, roads and driveways.
•Capable of attracting a substantial share of users from beyond the local area.
•Responsive (through managing entities) to concerns of adjacent landowners.
A Michigan Trailway in your community
The features and benefits listed above are what separate Michigan Trailways from other trails and paths. They are the guarantees, the markers of quality. But perhaps most exciting is the unlimited potential for year-round recreation. Often surrounded by attractive natural areas, they are great places for the people of your community to bicycle, walk, run, hike, ski and ride horses. Though access is often located near population centers, trailways usually quiet, removed from motor vehicle traffic and noise.
Those that run near streams or lakes may offer opportunities to fish, canoe or swim. Some trailways accommodate picnicking and other non-trail activities and some, especially those in rural areas, offer opportunities tosnowmobilers.
Trailways have non-recreation benefits, as well. Many protect scenic beauty, natural communities and wildlife habitat, including threatened and endangered species. Others help wildlife move through urban or agricultural areas. This creates opportunities for nature study and environmental education. In this age of urban sprawl, the creation of trailways helps preserve precious plant and animal habitat and keeps nature close by.
Some trailways also preserve historic resources such as railroad depots and bridges, which encourages historical interpretation and appreciation. Others serve as non-motorized transportation routes within and between communities, thereby reducing automobile use.
How to start the designation process
If your public agency would like its trail to be considered for Michigan Trailway designation, call the DNR at 517-373-1275. The state trails coordinator or a representative will contact your agency to discuss the designation process, request more information and arrange a field review. After this evaluation, a public meeting will be held in your area to invite citizen input. Recommendation for designation then is submitted to the Natural Resources Commission.
Trails under development can be considered for designation, if a master plan or other documentation that provides a basis for evaluation is presented for review.
Nearly every major trailway in Michigan has come about through partnerships among many "trailmakers", including local units of government, the state, other agencies, user groups, community organizations, businesses, foundations and dedicated individuals. The DNR can advise active or prospective trailmakers on trailmaking strategies involving the federal rail abandonment process, trail funding, forming trailway management councils and other matters.
Today more trailmakers are trying to link individual trails to create "mega-trails" and form a true statewide trailway network. The four regional cases accompanying the map exemplify these efforts.
The DNR urges trailmakers to work with us to ensure their trail will qualify for Michigan Trailway designation.
Status of the Michigan Trailway Network
Some key links in the trailway system already are in place or are under development:
•Two state park trailways virtually are complete: the 34-mile Kal-Haven Trail in Van Buren and Kalamazoo counties and the 21-mile Hart-Montague Trail in Oceana and Muskegon counties. The Natural Resources Commission has declared these trails the first designated Michigan Trailways.
•Other major DNR, partnership and local trailways are completed, under development or planned. Some of these are under consideration for Michigan Trailway designation. See the map and table for details about Michigan's progress in creating the trailway system.
For more information, including a free copy of our video, contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at 517-373-1275.
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