Emmons applauds four area projects in NRTF board recommendations

Sen. Judy Emmons

Sen. Judy Emmons

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Judy Emmons applauded the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) board for including four area trail projects in its list of development and land acquisition recommendations for 2018.

“Making Michigan a better place to live, work and raise a family can also help us attract new talent and jobs to our region,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “These trail projects would be wonderful additions to the Natural Resources Trust Fund’s track record of helping improve recreational opportunities in our state.”

The plan approved by the NRTF board includes three projects in Montcalm County. One would use $290,000 in NRTF support to construct about 11 miles of non-motorized Fred Meijer River Valley Rail Trail from the Ionia-Kent county line to the completed sections north and south of Belding and to Greenville, where it will connect to the existing Fred Meijer Flat River Trail.

The second project would use $99,900 to build trailhead facilities for the Flat River Water Trail. The project includes parking and accessible canoe/kayak launches. One launch will be located in Jackson’s Landing Park in Greenville and the other will be about 10 miles downstream at Central Riverside Park in Belding.

A third project includes $300,000 to improve a 29-mile long trail segment of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park through Montcalm County from Big Rapids in Mecosta County to Sand Lake from dirt surface to asphalt pavement. The 92-mile long trail stretches from Comstock Park to Cadillac with over half of the trail improved with asphalt surfacing.

“Whether it is kayaking on a water trail or biking on a paved rail trail, these projects offer tremendous options for residents to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors,” Emmons said. “The scenic White Pine Trail offers residents and visitors a unique chance to have fun outdoors and see the small-town charm that makes our state such a great place to live. The project will create a safer, more accessible surface for everyone while also helping attract more tourists and economic development to the communities along the trail corridor.”

In Isabella County, Mt. Pleasant would receive $153,000 for an Island Park Fitness Trail and bridge project, which would include an 8-foot wide accessible path, fitness stations and replacement of the 28-year-old pedestrian bridge between Island Park and Pickens Park. The trail improvements will complete the mile loop within Island Park.

“These developments will enhance the ability of all area families to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities,” Emmons said. “The Island Park project will enable even more residents to stay fit and take advantage of a popular local park located right next to downtown Mt. Pleasant.”

The NRTF is supported by interest earned on funds generated from the development of state-owned mineral rights. The trust fund is constitutionally restricted for natural resources improvements and land acquisitions across the state.

The NRTF board’s recommendations for projects in 2018 will now head to the Legislature for review as part of the budget process.