Possible Iron Belle Trail routes through Calhoun County discussed at open house

March 10, 2017

MARSHALL – A couple of potential Iron Belle Trail routes through Calhoun County were proposed and discussed recently as part of an open house for area residents, local and state officials.

Kristen Bennett, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Iron Belle Trail Coordinator, said the community had a unique opportunity to help connect the Iron Belle Trail.

“You really have a special opportunity here to create something beautiful,” Bennett told the gathering.

Sam Lovall, senior project manager for PEA, a Brighton engineering firm, opened the discussion by showing three proposed routes that were just that – proposals.

“It’s really the beginning of an idea,” he said. “In the end, we don’t have to pick one of these, it can be a part of this or a part of that … What we want to do is get the conversation started.”

Ideas discussed in the meeting at the Marshall City Hall ranged from narrowing Michigan Ave. through the City of Marshall to one lane in each direction and adding a bicycle lane to having the trail go away from downtown near the Marshall High School athletic fields.

Representatives from tourism, local economic groups, the Michigan Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources plus trail users were on hand for the discussion.

Nancy Krupiarz, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, pointed out how the trail route will ultimately connect the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail, the North Country National Scenic Trail and the Iron Belle Trail.

“It really connects here,” she said.

Bennett said this piece of the Iron Belle Trail will encompass what is great about the 2,000-mile plus long trail that connects the western Upper Peninsula and Belle Isle in Detroit.

“You really do have all kinds of landscapes and habitats that you can see throughout the whole state all in a one, confined area,” she said. “To find a way through the county that showcases that is really what the Iron Belle is trying to do – to showcase the different kinds of things you can see throughout our whole state. If people decide to just take the Calhoun County part of it, they can see a lot of what they can see through the whole state, just in a much smaller area.”

The next step, Lovall said, was to take the comments made during the March 8, 2016 meeting and incorporate them into new drawing and study. Eventually there will be a public hearing and more public discussion.

For more information, contact Doug Donnelly, communications representative, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 517-284-6109