Fred Meijer Trail Champion Awards
WMTGC’s annual Fred Meijer Trail Champion awards honor Fred’s legacy while recognizing the contributions of the individuals and groups who make our trails great. Here are this year’s award recipients:
Trail Volunteer - Sue Hodapp
Kalamazoo resident Sue Hodapp is a Master Gardener from the MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. For many years she has led a group maintaining native plants on the Kal-Haven Trail between F and G Avenues in Kalamazoo County. Her activities include eradication of invasive plants, encouragement of Michigan wildflowers, and careful trimming to maintain the trail.
Trail Professional - Scott Post
Scott Post is an award winning civil engineer working for Prein & Newhof and has devoted his career to designing, engineering, and overseeing construction of non-motorized trails. He has extensive experience with easement acquisition, state, local, and federal trail grants, such as MDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and the MDNR’s Natural Resources Trust Fund. Scott has seen a lot in more than 20 years of this work and is respected for that work around the state.
Trail Maintenance - David Heyboer and Friends of the White Pine Trail
David Heyboer has been involved with the trail systems in West Michigan for more than 20 years and shows passion to expand and maintain the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park for current and future users. He and his Friends of the White Pine Trail team work year round to plow snow, mow grass, trim and remove trees, sweep, place benches, install picnic tables, and seal cracks in the asphalt.
Click below to nominate a 2019 Trail Champion!
A Regional Voice For a World-Class Trail Experience
We live in a great state for trails! Michigan continues to be a trail leader with more than 12,500 trail miles, including snowmobile, ORV, hiking, equestrian, water, non-motorized, and more. In West Michigan, we’re blessed to have a concentration of more non-motorized multi-use trails than other parts of the state, shaping up to be an incredible and connected trail network.
West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition strives to be the regional voice for the broader trail network in our region and is working to bring it to the next level as a world-class system. Our strategy for the coming months and years includes:
- Development of a regional way finding (signage) system that works on trails AND bike lanes, and then implementation of that system on many of our regional trails
- Development of regional maintenance guidelines for more consistent trail maintenance, and implementation of a shared communication tool for trail managers to ask questions and share successes or lessons learned
- Funding assistance toward regional metrics systems and studies to understand trail use and the health and economic benefits of our trail system
- Funding assistance toward key trail projects and connections that will have significant impact on our regional trail network
- Funding assistance toward trail planning and early engineering stages, project stages that are notoriously difficult to fund keeping some projects from starting
It’s a lot to do, but the work and the trail network is worth it. Your role has been an integral part of our success to date, and your continued support will be key to the ongoing success in development of our beautiful trail network. If you believe in a world-class trail experience for West Michigan, please take a moment to make a financial contribution to West Michigan Trails & Greenways Coalition.
Here are three ways to give:
- BY CHECK: Send to WMTGC, 1345 Monroe Ave NW, Suite 220, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
- ONLINE: Visit the donation page
- STOCKS: Contact John Morrison at 616-485-7805 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details
WMTGC is a non-profit, 501c3 and your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Please consult with your tax advisor.
White Pine Paved between LeRoy and Reed City
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources held a ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the latest section of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park, paved between LeRoy and Reed City earlier this year. Chilly and damp weather couldn’t keep people away from the celebration, a nice milestone as the trail is now paved for 55 miles from Cadillac to Big Rapids. The Silver Spokes, a bicycle club from Mecosta County, rode all the way to Cadillac and then back to the ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of this latest segment.
Help Fund the Spoonville Trail Project
The Ottawa County Planning Department is raising funds to complete Phase II construction of the Spoonville Trail. This beautiful section of trail winds gracefully through a golf course, offering a tranquil experience for hiking, biking, and exploring. Their goal of connecting almost 50 miles of recreational trail ways in Ottawa County is over 96% funded with just $80,000 remaining. To cross the finish line, they need your help!
To donate, go to the GoFundMe page.
300 Tandems Explore West Michigan
Six hundred people with 300 tandem bicycles recently participated in the Midwest Tandem Rally (MTR) in West Michigan to explore our attractions, roads, and trails. Each Labor Day weekend they gather in a different Midwest state, with this year’s event being organized and hosted by the Michigan United Tandem Society (MUTS). WMTGC hosted an evening banquet for the riders at Millennium Park where we had a pig and turkey roast and live music. A big Thank You to Alive & Well for the excellent music, Robert Vandenberg for a great pig roast, and especially to our many fantastic volunteers who all made the evening run smoothly!
Hard Surface Trail Maintenance Manual
The Michigan Recreation & Park Association (mParks) has developed a trail maintenance manual. The purpose of this Trail Maintenance Manual is to assist park, recreation, and trail managers in developing a plan and budget for ongoing trail maintenance. It includes resources and samples to assist in the allocation of personnel and financial resources and determining trail maintenance efforts. It is not a recipe book providing step-by-step instructions on how to maintain your trail(s), as every community’s expectations and resources differ. It is, however, a manual that guides readers through the process of creating a trail maintenance program for hard surface trails.
Hard surface trails include those paved with concrete, asphalt, or crushed limestone. Developing a trail maintenance plan and budget can be time-consuming and demanding, but the results should reduce overall personnel time spent on trail maintenance, while ensuring trail safety and user satisfaction. For more information and to purchase the Manual, visit the mParks website.
West Michigan's Trail Vision: Connecting Trails, Economics, and Health
Instead of speakers, we hosted a panel at the 2018 Annual Meeting at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The panel was made up of regional leaders with unique perspectives on the future and benefits of our regional non-motorized trail system.
The panel covered a broad spectrum of topics, including economic development, community connectivity, health, and equity among trail users.
The question of health equity was posed to Jill Myer, Public Health Program Supervisor at the Kent County Health Department. Myer said the Health Department works with many regional organizations to incorporate equity in all activity areas.
“As we look at connecting regional trails for certain populations, we might want to think about how this will affect other populations and how we can make these trailways accessible to a wider audience,” Myer said.
David Marquardt, Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Grand Rapids, shared his thoughts on what he felt was needed to bring the regional trail network to the next level.
“We need to be more deliberate about having these meetings as partners so we can all understand what priorities we want to have moving forward,” Marquardt said.
The consensus of the panel was clear: the trail networks make the West Michigan region a better place to live, work, and play. The next steps will need support and expertise from a variety of organizations to ensure equitable, accessible, and sustainable expansion of the growing trail system.
To watch the full panel discussion, click here.