The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Gogebic, Ontonagon get over $300,000 in trust fund grants


June 6, 2018


LANSING — Gogebic and Ontonagon counties will receive a combined $310,300 for several projects as part of over $49 million in additional Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grants Gov. Rick Snyder approved Monday.

The $310,300 will help fund one project in Gogebic County and two more in Ontonagon County. The projects’ total costs are estimated at $457,000. The remainder of the cost for the projects comes from local matching funds, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill awarding the funds.

The Gogebic County project, which received $54,300 and is estimated to cost $72,500, will allow the city of Ironwood to acquire 33 acres of rail grade to connect Norrie Park and the Miners Memorial Heritage Park.

Eventually, the acquisition, identified as the Southern Beltline Trail, will also be used — along with existing city property — to help connect the two parks to the Iron Belle Trail.

“(We’re) always happy to move these projects forward, and this is an extension of the trail development the city has been working on for a number of years,” said City Manager Scott Erickson, adding the trail had probably been discussed for the past five years. “So the application was made for the acquisition, we were lucky enough to receive it and now we’ll move forward with the property owners to actually move forward with the acquisition process.”

He said it was too early to talk about a timeline for developing the trail, but the first step would be using the funds to secure public ownership of the rail grade.

“We don’t have a specific timeframe for development, other than it’s identified I believe in our Parks and Recreation plan and it’s something we do want to move forward,” Erickson said. “Again, it all comes down to funding and getting match money.”

The money — along with a recent grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to construct a trail connecting the city’s Little League fields near the Pioneer Park apartments to the Miners Park — links up several key recreation points in the city, making them increasingly accessible to residents and visitors.

“Ultimately, they all will connect to the Iron Belle, and everything else will connect to the Miners Park,” Erickson said. “Miners Park is kind of a central hub for us, and the regional trail is of course the Iron Belle — so they all connect together.”

Along with the Ironwood project, two projects in Ontonagon County were awarded trust fund grants — both of which allow the DNR to acquire lands or easements in the county.

One of the projects will use $206,800 in trust fund money and $103,500 in local matching funds to acquire 30-foot wide permanent easements on Weyerhaeuser property to be used for multi-use trails. The easements not only ensure year-round access, according to the agency’s analysis, but prevent permit issues and the use of private land to cause trail closures. The easement requests include 9.35 miles on snowmobile Trail 13, 3.75 miles on Trail 12 and .51 miles on Trail 3.

The other project was awarded $49,200 in grants, along with $25,000 in local matching funds, for the acquisition of a 30-foot-wide permanent easement on commercial forest land owned by GMO. The easement will benefit both motorized and non-motorized trail users and will ensure continued access to the trail known as the Pioneer Trail/Snowmobile Trails 3 and 13.

“This multi-use trail is a key component of the regional trail system and serves users year-round,” the analysis reads.

The local projects were just three of the 34 acquisitions funded by $28,852,900 in grants and costing a total of $36,169,900 when local match amounts are factored in. Along with the acquisitions, 97 development projects — costing a total of $58,761,300 — received another $21,014,000 in trust fund grants.

Among the development projects are trails, parks, canoe and kayak launches, playgrounds and splash pads across Michigan.

Also Monday, Snyder signed legislation establishing a five-member group to advise the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board on annual spending recommendations. The fund consists of royalties paid by oil and gas companies that buy and lease state-owned mineral rights.

Editor’s Note: The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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