The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ontonagon County project gets Iron Belle grant


April 29, 2020


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A bridge project in Ontonagon County recently received a private grant as the Iron Belle Trail Fund announced the work was one of five projects on the statewide Iron Belle Trail to receive a portion of $300,000 in funding.

“With recreation trail use up more than 200%, trails are more important than ever and provide a means for people to stay physically and mentally fit during these challenging times,” said Steve DeBrabander, the executive director of the Iron Belle Trail Fund. “The Iron Belle Trail truly is a great example of a public and private partnership that will benefit our citizens and improve the quality of life in this state.”

The North Country Trail Association will receive $20,000 from the foundation for the replacement of a bridge over Bush Creek in the Ottawa National Forest, as much of the Iron Belle’s hiking route runs on the North Country National Scenic Trail across the northern Upper Peninsula and western Lower Peninsula. The Iron Belle’s biking route runs along U.S. 2 across the southern U.P. before entering the Lower Peninsula.

DeBrabander told the Daily Globe the current bridge is too short and deteriorating.

The Bush Creek bridge is south of White Pine, east of M-64 and north of M-28 in a relatively remote part of the national forest.

The grant money is expected to cover the engineering and design work for the bridge, according to DeBrabander, as well as any boardwalks, culverts and other aspects that are needed to complete the project.

Kenny Wawsczyk, the North Country Trail Association’s regional trail coordinator for Michigan, said the association is finalizing the paperwork to receive the grant for the Ontonagon project and it was too early to lay out a timeline for the project.

He said the group will work with the Ottawa National Forest and the local North Country Trail chapter to determine the details of the project and send out requests for proposals to engineering firms.

Along with the project in Ontonagon County, the fund also awarded grants to the replacement of a pair of hiking bridges within Craig Lake State Park in Baraga County, as well as projects in Calhoun, Washtenaw and Wayne counties downstate.

The $300,000 in grants will leverage over $6 million of other private and public funds as matching dollars, according to the fund’s announcement of the grants.

The Iron Belle Trail Fund is a non-profit organization that was established to raise funds to help complete the Iron Belle Trail, which is planned to run from Ironwood to Belle Isle in Detroit.


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