Funds to improve trails, benefit youth stewardship program
ONTONAGON COUNTY — Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment has been awarded a Stewards for Trails, Education and Partnerships grant to benefit its Courtney Equestrian Trail.
The trail is located in the Ottawa National Forest in eastern Ontonagon County. The $3,875 grant comes from the American Quarter Horse Association’s corporate Partner, Tractor Supply Company.
Funds will go toward improvements to the trail area south of the Firesteel River. “In addition to trail repairs, our plans for the STEP grant funds are to contact local schools and suggest working with students through stewardship programs for those in grades nine through 12,” said MI-TRALE equine director Cathy Wainio. “This would mean the youths involved would be offered the opportunity to do community service work in exchange for credits towards educational grants.”
MI-TRALE would mentor students as they get involved with work on Courtney EQ Trail projects. The STEP grant also creates opportunities to educate children in lower grades through classroom visits and hands-on projects. “This project will educate and better connect the participants to their community,” Wainio said. “They will learn the value, enjoyment and responsibilities of volunteer work as well as having a part in protecting the environment.”
Wainio, MI-TRALE secretary Linda Schulz and new member Janet Miesbauer worked together to write the grant application. “I am delighted to be involved with a group that is so proactive in developing and promoting equine trails, and trails in general, in the western U.P.,” Miesbauer said. “The teamwork is great and the MI-TRALE board is a very positive, supportive group.”
The grant writers were assisted by Jeff Mell, the north zone assistant ranger in recreation for the ONF. “A big thank you goes to Mell for doing so much to help us complete the application,” Wainio said.
“It takes dedication by volunteers and the cooperation of land managers both private and public to continue taking part in the trail systems designed to last for generations,” AQHA representative Brandon Black wrote in a letter informing MI-TRALE of the award. “Thank you for your dedication to land conservation.”
“MI-TRALE feels this project compliments our mission and efforts to build a better future for our community,” Wainio said. “We invite all equine enthusiasts to come for a ride along the lovely Courtney EQ Trail.”
For more information, visit mi-trale.org.