Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Iron Belle mini grant applications available

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking applications for the fourth round of planning and signage grant funding in 2018 for communities and organizations working on the non-motorized Iron Belle Trail.

Proposals are due Jan. 5. Grants will be announced in March.

The third phase of the Iron Belle Trail on the Gogebic Range will extend from Bessemer to Ramsay and the fourth phase will be from Ramsay to Wakefield. The larger train runs from Ironwood to Belle Isle in Detroit.

The primary focus of the latest round of grants is on Iron Belle Trail segments that are prepared to go into construction in 2018, pertaining to engineering and design of projects, and the purchase of Iron Belle Trail signage.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources partners, communities and eligible nonprofits will have the opportunity to compete for grant money for Iron Belle Trail projects. The maximum request is $30,000. A match is not required, but strongly recommended, according to the MDNR.

Only communities or eligible nonprofits with projects on designated Iron Belle Trail routes are eligible for funding.

“Funds are available to local communities to plan, design, sign and construct biking and hiking connectors on the Iron Belle Trail, from Ironwood to Detroit,” said Paul Auk, DNR state trails coordinator. “These dollars will help bring together partners and create more progress on this showcase trail.”

It is the fourth year the DNR has administered Iron Belle Trail mini grants. The DNR said the total amount of funding available is still to be determined. Since 2015, $950,000 in mini grants has supported nearly 50 Iron Belle Trail projects.

The cost of the third phase of the Gogebic County Iron Belle construction project, from Bessemer to Ramsay, is estimated at $1,651,162. The DNR Trust Fund grant application deadline is April 1.

Proposal forms for the mini grants and other information about the trail is available on the DNR website at

Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail has two distinct routes for hiking and bicycling that, together, cover more than 2,000 miles of trail. It is made possible by federal, state and local units of government and numerous organizations and partners, with the greater construction costs covered by the DNR trust fund and Department of Transportation funding.

—Ralph Ansami