4 mountain biking, mountain climbing, and park projects in Washtenaw County with $ 300,000 government grants

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI – Four Washtenaw County’s outdoor recreational projects that support activities such as mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking are well on the way to raising $ 300,000 from a state fund thanks to a recommendation from the board of directors and the Michigan governor , Gretchen Whitmer.

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

In Ypsilanti, the government dollars are to be used for improvements in Frog Island Park to make a canoe and kayak dock, a parking lot and a fishing area accessible for people with reduced mobility.

Northfield Township intends to use the funds for pathways and parking spaces in the Northfield Community Park, which is under development, and Superior Township intends to use the money to develop a multi-purpose path along Plymouth Road.

The last of four $ 300,000 Washtenaw County grants will enable renovation work on the Potawatomi Trail, a popular 27.5 mile hiking and mountain biking trail that brings single trail enthusiasts to the Pinckney State Recreation Area north of Dexter.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, these recommendations are now being passed to Michigan lawmakers’ desks for review before approving the grants.

“As our state traversed a second year amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, the importance of green spaces and public recreational facilities became a priority,” Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. “Time and again, Michigan residents and visitors turned to hiking trails, parks, athletic fields, and other inviting public places where they could get out of their homes, soak up the sun, and connect with family and friends.”

Which projects receive funding for outdoor leisure time funding?

Ypsilanti officials are celebrating the second year in a row that a local project has been nominated to receive support from the state outdoor leisure fund. Last year, the city received a similar grant for a route on I-94 on Huron Street due to be built in the spring of 2022.

The latest grant can contribute to the accessibility project at Frog Island Park in Depot Town. This natural area is an important gateway to the Border to Border Trail and the Huron River, but according to the city, many of the facilities are still inaccessible to people with disabilities.

The start for canoes and kayaks can be reached, for example, via a concrete staircase or a wood chip path, the city announced in its December newsletter. Planned improvements will make the start, track and field, pivot and parking area accessible, while adding bike parking and rainwater controls, according to the city.

This conceptual plan, published in the city of Ypsilanti’s newsletter of December 2021, shows planned improvements to the accessibility of Frog Island Park near Depot Town.Taken from the newsletter of the city of Ypsilanti

North of Ypsilanti, some of the government commodity fund’s dollars could also be poured into a section of a proposed path along the south side of Plymouth Road, according to Superior Township Supervisor Ken Schwartz.

The trail 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 one catch to this plan: a landowner on the route refuses to allow the road to be eased, and the municipality wants to initiate a high-level domain procedure if the state approval is obtained, according to Schwartz.

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

In the future, community leaders will be looking into extending the Plymouth Road route further east to join an existing route to Plymouth, he added.

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

There, on the same day that the grant recommendations were announced, township park officials heard design presentations from a company selected earlier this year to lead the development of the park, which is part of the North Village area.

“It all comes in time,” said Jacqueline Otto, Northfield Ward treasurer, at the ward park and recreation committee meeting on December 2nd. “This is just the beginning, people.”

The final grants that may go to Washtenaw County will remain with DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division, according to the agency, to fund improvements in the Pinckney Recreation Area.

If legislature approves it, the $ 300,000 would be used for ongoing renovations to the Potawatomi, or “Poto” trail, which, according to the Potowatomi Mountain Biking Association, has been severely eroded in areas that continue to deteriorate.

This group has raised money to rehabilitate sections of the nature trail that winds between a number of lakes and is used by cyclists, hikers and cross-country skiers alike.

The $ 1.2 million recommended for projects in Washtenaw County is just a small fraction of the annual cake that the Natural Resources Trust Fund represents.

In total, officials said the program will fund $ 45.6 million in recreational projects and land acquisitions in Michigan in 2022.

For a full list of projects, click here.

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