To celebrate the successful opening of a new 70-mile Ottawa East Connector Trail, Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment recently hosted an appreciation luncheon and tour.
Officials from the Ottawa National Forest, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, JR Richardson, chairman of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, and Ontonagon County Board Commissioner Dennis O’Brien attended, MI-TRALE communications coordinator Donna Wolf said.
The trail opened on Aug. 31 stretches from the Iron River trailhead in the south to the Houghton trailhead in the north, Wolf said.
ONF provided the land for the trail to MI-TRALE, and MDNR gave the trail designated status so it would be funded through the state for maintenance, Wolf said.
“MI-TRALE is lucky to have such good working relationships with the ONF and the MDNR,” Wolf said. “Without their hard work and cooperation, the new EC trail would not be available to visitors that travel on the trail system.”
In attendance for the appreciation tour from the ONF were Supervisor Tony Scardina, along with Steve Drake, Mike Kocher, Josh Lopac and Jeff Mell. In attendance from the MDNR were Western District Upper Peninsula Supervisor Bill Doan, along with Rob Katona and Ron Yesney.
Representing MI-TRALE were officers Don Helsel, president; Jim Altenburg, vice president; Linda Schulz, secretary; Dave Bishop, treasurer; directors Khris Kennedy and Kim Sims; trail manager Mike Schulz, Wolf and members Sue Helsel and Brenda Kennedy.
“The day began a little damp and drizzly, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of those present. The tour departed from FR 1460. The fall colors, bright and shiny from the rain, were just starting to show off,” Wolf said.
Schulz led the 27-mile tour through a mixture of hard and softwood forest using logging, forest and county roads to show the development and improvements made to the trail. The tour ended with an appreciation luncheon for all participants at the Lower Dam area.
Guests were treated to a meal of seasoned, grilled loin pork chops, baked potatoes and special sautéed fresh green beans, seated at tables and chairs, under a large tent. “They were expecting hot dogs and potato chips,” Wolf said, “but we thought we could do better than that.”
Secretary Schulz said, “It was so nice that the sun came out and everyone was able to relax and discuss all that they had seen on the tour. We were delighted to hear so many positive comments about the EC Trail. It was very gratifying to have everyone’s hard work be so validated.”
For more information, visit mi-trale.org.