Exciting News!


by Zachary Pawlowski


SMARTrails Newsletter 1 | Q4 | 2022 Exciting News!
2022 has been a year of progress for Friends of SMARTrails. We’ve been engaging with our communities, gathering volunteers, and helping secure funds to make the trails a reality. We’re so excited to share the news of the $1.4 million EDA grant that was awarded for SMARTrails. Keep reading for details on how the grant will be used.

Summer Wrap Up

Part of Friends of SMARTrails mission is to get out in the public and excite people about the trails we’re proposing for Manistee County. This summer we were present at Bear Lake & Copemish Days, the Manistee County Fair, and our National Trails Day hosted at Northern Natural Cider where we signed up quite a few new members. Thank you to all who stopped by!
Stay connected via Facebook and our website to learn about future events and SMARTrails merch that is coming soon!   Manistee County Trail development is moving forward with a $1.4MM grant from the EDA! The grant was obtained through a cooperative application between Networks Northwest and the Department of Natural Resources to the Economic Development Administration’s outdoor recreation and tourism funding opportunity. 
The grant will fund two separate projects along two separate trail routes.  Trail surfacing and amenities (signage, gates, trailhead) will be implemented along a 3.4 mile section of abandoned railroad bed between the Village of Thompsonville and the Village of Copemish, which will extend the Betsie Valley Trail as a year-round trail to Copemish. Placement of a bridge over Bear Creek in Springdale Township along a separate abandoned railroad bed which connects the Village of Thompsonville to the Village of Kaleva allowing for immediate use during the winter months by snowmobilers.   
SMARTrails will be a lead volunteer organization for support of trail maintenance activities and continue to advocate for continued improvement and expansion of these trail systems. 
The timeline is difficult to predict prior to the securing of an engineering firm for final design and securing of a construction firm for trail development of the two projects but is scheduled to be completed by February 2025 according to the EDA’s timeline.
Trails are well known for their many community benefits.  These include economic benefits, health benefits, open space protection, connection to nature and strengthening of community social fabric. We are thrilled with the EDA grant and the future improvements it will bring to Manistee County and Northern Michigan!   Bear Creek in Springdale Township where a bridge will be placed as part of the EDA grant.   

Manistee County Parks and Recreation Commission Updates

The Manistee County Parks and Recreation Commission continues to work toward an interconnected, county-wide multiuse trail system. We are excited to collaborate with SMARTrails, local, state and federal governments, and several community organizations. Each of these stakeholders brings valuable input to the process.
Manistee County Parks and Recreation Commission is planning to apply for a SPARK grant through the DNR to add a multi-use trail from Kaleva to Thompsonville. We are currently planning for a crushed gravel surface with access points in Thompsonville and Kaleva. Manistee County recently contracted with a grant writer, Bill Kennis, who will assist with the project and will be able to help us write future grants for trails.
The DNR added several gates on the newly completed Chief to Kaleva trail. DNR cooperated with the West Shore Community College Welding class, who built several access gates for the Chief to Kaleva trail.
A Recreation Planner/Manager is key to moving forward with the technical expertise, landowner relations, and other aspects of expanding trails in Manistee County. The County Parks and Recreation Commission continues to work with Manistee County and other community partners to seek funding for a Recreation Planner/Manager position.   Thank you! Thank you for your support towards Friends of SMARTrails. Your contribution helps us advocate for the development of trails to interconnect Manistee County.

Follow the link to Donate.   Donate Now    
Zachary Pawlowski

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