LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Thursday approved the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grant recommendations for development and acquisition projects in fiscal year 2019. Four of the projects are in Michigan’s 19th Senate District, including public trail expansions and trailhead creation.
“The proposed projects are great upgrades to prioritize our trail systems,” said Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “I want to thank everyone involved in securing these grants and putting them to work to improve the accessibility of our wonderful parks and nature areas.”
The MNRTF provides for natural resource protection and outdoor recreation through yearly project grants. By law, no more than 25 percent of the Trust Fund revenues can be used for development. Therefore, the majority of funding is allocated for acquisition projects. Final grant recommendations are made by the MNRTF Board and must be approved by the state Legislature.
Details of the four grants are below.
Eastern Calhoun – Albion – Iron Belle Trailhead Acquisition — $231,900
Acquisition of a 65-acre parcel of land in Albion Township and ultimately development of the property into a major trailhead and public recreation area for eastern Calhoun County. The trailhead will serve several recreational assets, including the Iron Belle Trail, which is being developed through the city of Albion and then through Albion College’s Equestrian Center before reaching the proposed trailhead location. The proposed trailhead is across the street from public access to the Kalamazoo River.
Fred Meijer River Valley Rail Trail – South Phase — $290,000
Development to construct approximately 14.5 miles of nonmotorized trail from the Ionia-Kent county line to the north city limits of Lowell and from the south city limits of Lowell to Saranac, where it will connect to the existing Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Trail. This trail will develop an existing nonmotorized corridor that connects the Ionia River Trail to Fred Meijer ClintonIonia-Shiawassee Trail and contributes to the planned 125-mile trail system between Alma and Owosso.
Albion River Trail Expansion — $255,000
Development of a trail to extend the Albion River Trail system on the west side of the city. This project is part of a larger push by the Calhoun County Trailway Alliance, the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and many others to fill the gaps that exist along the trail systems. This project is part of a larger plan to complete these regional trails. Albion is located at a hub for three major recreational trails in the state: The Iron Belle Trail, the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail, and the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Silk City Nature Trail Gathering Place Connector — $142,300
Development of the new Gathering Place Park in downtown Belding. The project will include a 650-foot extension of the Silk City Nature Trail along the Flat River and connection to the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail, a fishing and wildlife observation deck, interpretive and pathway identification signage, benches and landscaping.