Environment Picture

Road map to a better trail system

Statewide action plan comes together, input sought by Greenways Alliance
If citizens and state policy makers decide that a robust, interconnected system of recreational trails is a state priority, now they have a trail map to get them there.

The year-long efforts of 10 task forces on statewide trail issues culminated recently in the release of a report detailing the nuts and bolts of connecting Michigan residents through trail systems.

Connecting Michigan: A Statewide Trails Vision and Action Plan, was issued by project partners: Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance; the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program; and Michigan Recreation and Park Association Trails, Greenways and Blueways Committee.

Approximately 180 trail advocates, state, regional and local government elected officials and personnel, and the public gathered at the Library of Michigan on May 15 to hear the highlights of the groups’ work.

The task forces each covered distinctly different topics (funding, programming, promotions, GIS statewide trails mapping, on-road connections to trails, private property easements, multi-use trail design standards, advocacy support, regional collaboration, and state and local interdepartmental coordination), and produced 39 goals and 109 action steps.

Four goals emerged and form a framework for an interconnected trailway network which connects every region of the state. The goals are as follows:
  • Ensure that Michigan’s trailway stakeholders have ready access to technical resources and best practices from Michigan and beyond, and across all the many facets of trailways planning, acquisition, development, maintenance, operations and advocacy.
  • Improve Michigan’s financial, maintenance and marketing resources necessary for developing, promoting, enhancing and sustaining a statewide interconnected trailway system.
  • Improve coordination and communication; encourage cooperation; foster new partnerships to support trailway planning, development, management and programming that enhance the trailway experience.
  • Provide Michigan’s trailway stakeholders with a compelling statewide trailway vision and a tactical plan to achieve and market the vision.
The next step in the project is to garner as many endorsements as possible from agencies, coalitions and individuals who support the recommendations. The endorsements will help build momentum for funding, legislative action and advocacy, which will drive the implementation of the Connecting Michigan plan.

Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance will monitor the progress of the plan and undertake many of the action steps in addition to encouraging other groups to take the lead on other recommendations.

The full report can be downloaded from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance web site: www.michigantrails.org.
-Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance
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