The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

State House approves Gogebic trail funding


March 21, 2019


LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives recently approved $870,400 in funding for recreation and conservation projects in the western Upper Peninsula, including more than half a million dollars for a pair of Gogebic County trail projects.

The house approved a total of $26 million in funding for 34 recreational development projects and 30 land acquisitions statewide.

These include $280,000 for the development of a new mountain biking trail system in Ironwood’s Miners Memorial Heritage Park and $299,900 for development of a 3-mile section of the Iron Belle Trail between Bessemer and Ramsay, according to Abby Walls, a spokesperson for 110th District Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock.

The projects are funded through the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund, which Walls said is funded through mineral, oil and gas leases rather than taxpayer funds. The grants still need to be approved by the state senate and governor’s office as part of the budget process.

“I think people are real excited to get that (Bessemer to Ramsay) section of trail built. People are loving (the existing Iron Belle trail between Ironwood and Bessemer), a lot of people are using it,” said Scott Erickson, the chairman of Michigan’s Western Gateway Trail Authority. “I think Ramsay is looking forward to getting it, and this will enhance the whole trail experience for the users.”

The construction of the newest local section of the non-motorized trail will extend the trail east from Bessemer.

Once the grant process is finalized, Erickson said the tentative schedule was to finalize design work this summer and bid out construction in the winter. The trail would then be built in the summer of 2020. It will ultimately run from Ironwood to Belle Isle in Detroit.

Along with the trust fund grant; the construction of the trail segment is also being funded by a $745,327 Michigan Department of Transportation grant, $173,910 Department of Natural Resources Iron Belle grant and $265,075 in local matching funds.

The Miners Park project is a partnership between the city of Ironwood, the Ironwood Tourism Council and the Sisu Dirt Crew.

Tom Bergman, Ironwood’s community development director and Sisu Dirt Crew member, said the three organizations were working together to provide the local matching funds for the grant.

Although biking has been allowed in the Miner’s Park, Bergman said there haven’t been any specific trails for it in the park.

Even though the approval process isn’t fully complete, Bergman is optimistic.

“Once funding is recommended we start planning that the project will go through,” he told the Daily Globe.

Markkanen praised the house for acting to promote tourism and recreation opportunities.

“Our state’s outdoor recreation and tourism industry brings billions of dollars to Michigan each year and supports more than 170,000 jobs — many of those dollars come to the Upper Peninsula, home of our state’s most treasured landmarks, lakeshores and forests,” said Markkanen, who voted for the measure. “I am proud to support a plan that supports jobs, growth and our U.P. way of life.”

Along with the Gogebic County projects, the house approved development of a pathway and picnic area upgrades at Point Abbaye Natural Area in Baraga County and development of a 15.6 miles of multi-use, non-motorized trails near Copper Harbor in Keweenaw County.


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