Keweenaw County updates its recreation plan

EAGLE RIVER — Keweenaw County submitted a five-year recreation plan to the state last week, which includes six major projects for this year alone.

First on the list is a plan to work with the Keweenaw Community Foundation to establish a park endowment to support maintenance at the Gratiot River County Park and other facilities, with an estimated cost of $100,000 raised through donations. The plan lists 21 parks and facilities within the county, most of which are heavily used throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Trail acquisition and development is second on the list. This plan calls for the establishment of the Keweenaw Trail, in addition to activities that will help to secure motorized and non-motorized trail access and enhance trail connectivity.

Additional priority will be placed on securing long-term easements for existing trail networks in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The estimated cost for this project is stated as $5 million, to be funded from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF), trail clubs and local donations.

The Keweenaw Trail, the plan states, is a proposed regional silent trail, separate from existing motorized recreation trails. The goal is to created a trans-peninsula silent trail system that could start at the Keweenaw National Historic Park in Calumet, and extend to the eastern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

As proposed, the system would cross four of the five townships in the county and would connect several existing trails, including the Keweenaw Point Trail, Keweenaw Ridge Trail and the Great Sand Bay Trail.

The plan also calls for the purchase of trail groomer equipment, and construct and identify storage facilities for county-owned equipment. Estimated cost of $50,000 will come from local, county, and unknown sources.

Gratiot River Park improvements, including the installation of restroom facilities, parking, accessibility improvement, enhanced road access, along with motorized trail access is also on the list. This also calls for the creation of the Gratiot River County Park Management Plan, to develop and manage the park.

This phase of the park’s creation is now underway.