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Emergency Trail Sign Project complete in Keweenaw
KEWEENAW COUNTY — The Keweenaw County portion of the Emergency Trail Sign Project is now completed, said Keweenaw County Sheriff Curt Pennala. The project, started by area resident Joe Schneller, begun in early 2021, has now moved onto the trails in Houghton County.
Because Keweenaw County is such a remote area, said Pennala, it is attractive to many outdoor enthusiasts, including snowmobilers and ATV riders.
“Historically, snowmobile trails have been the biggest draw to the Keweenaw,” Pennala said, “but with the growth in popularity of side-by-side ATVs in the past few years, along with the state recognizing our ATV trails, we’ve seen a lot of increased traffic in the summer months.”
The response to the rapidly increasing numbers has been the creation of the Keweenaw County Search and Rescue group, and starting the trail marker project, said Pennala. Another prong of the response has been Schneller’s trail sign project. Pennala said the sign project is more important than it may sound.
The remoteness of the Keweenaw and its mountainous and forested terrain present major challenges regarding cellphone service. Locating incidents that occur on the trail system can be problematic.
The trail markers will help in reducing some of those problems.
The trail marker signs are spaced a half mile apart, with each sign having a specific number, Pennala said. The numbers have been put into the regional dispatch system in Negaunee. When someone calls 911 and provides the sign location number, the dispatch has GPS coordinates that correspond to that sign marker number.
“They can relay the trail information, including the trail number and its corresponding GPS coordinates to our first responders who are going out to rescue these people,” said Pennala.
Pennala said he cannot say enough to thank Schneller for the work he has done on the project, all of which was unpaid.
The project has been, and continues to be, funded by donations, either through a gofundme account Schneller created, or by donations which are being accepted at the Houghton and Keweenaw County sheriff’s offices.
For those wishing to donate, the gofundme link is: gofund.me/6bc8589d. Any amount is accepted.