Department of Natural Resources
June 6, 2019
|More than two dozen projects along different parts of Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail will get a boost this year, sharing $1.4 million in public and privately raised funds to help build connections along the state’s showcase trail.
This year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has awarded $815,884 in mini-grants, while the private Iron Belle Trail Fund has added another $650,000 to support multiple projects on the trail. Grants from these two sources will leverage a matching $3 million in Iron Belle Trail projects.
“Momentum has been building for several years on the Iron Belle Trail, and these grants will ensure that it continues,” said Dakota Hewlett, Iron Belle Trail coordinator. “Several communities have used the mini-grant process to study, engineer and, now, build segments of the trail. It’s exciting to see these plans come together.”
The DNR received 36 applications for this grant cycle. Projects in 15 different counties received funding for signage, engineering, feasibility studies and trail/trailhead construction. The DNR introduced the mini-grants in 2015 as a way to build connections along the trail. Each grant applicant could ask for a maximum of $50,000 and was encouraged, though not required, to provide local match funds.
One community that applied for and received funding is Crawford County, which will use $150,000 to engineer three potential Iron Belle Trail projects in the Grayling area.
“This area has always been plush with outdoor attractions, with 70% of its land being public. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to visit these multiple attractions using nonmotorized transportation,” said Donald Babcock, managing director of the Crawford County Road Commission. “With the advent of the Iron Belle Trail, many of these opportunities can be combined to create a world-class trail, worthy of drawing visitors not only from Michigan, but from out of state.”
|This fifth year of Iron Belle Trail funding includes the most money ever distributed in a single mini-grant cycle. From 2015 through 2018, the DNR awarded a total of $1,465,000 in grants for a variety of projects – many of which have been completed or are nearing completion. These grant dollars come from a General Fund appropriation for Iron Belle Trail projects.
"We are very excited to be able to provide private funding for these great projects," said Steve DeBrabander, executive director of the Iron Belle Trail Fund. "This truly is great example of a public and private partnership that will benefit our citizens and improve the quality of life in Michigan."
The 25 DNR mini-grant-funded projects include the following. (A map showing the corresponding project numbers is available in the note to editors at the end of this release.)
For more details about the Iron Belle Trail, including an interactive map, visit Michigan.gov/IronBelle.
Learn more about the Iron Belle Trail Fund by contacting Steve DeBrabander at firstname.lastname@example.org.