Northeast Lower Peninsula has its “Trails Act Together”

The northeast Michigan Up North Trails Council is implementing major programs to connect and market the vast network of trails in Northern Michigan for tourism and assist local communities use of the trail system to improve local economy.

The Up North Trails Collaboration recently received financial support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant (USDA RBEG) to better market northern Michigan’s recreational assets.  The Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, a Michigan State University Extension partner organization, was instrumental in obtaining the funding.

Funding was awarded to the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments (NEMCOG) from the MEDC in the amount of $40,000 to complete the following three tasks: finish asset data collection for Northeast Michigan including identifying assets of interest to specific types of trail users such as bike shops, gas stations, restaurants, etc.; develop localized Trail Town Economic Development Program and Regional Best-Practices Manual; and develop a mobile version of the website (including enhancements to the full website).

Funding from the USDA RBEG in the amount of $27,500 will complete the aggregation of trail data for the entire Up North Trails region. Funding was awarded to the Top of Michigan Trails Council with assistance from the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance. Tasks for this portion of the project include: formation of trail and asset data teams; compare/aggregate trail data that is available from various sources; develop trail data standards; and seamlessly integrate trail data into usable GIS layers for upload to the website.

Funding options are being identified to fill in the asset data for the northwest region.  The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments is confident that funding will be in place by the end of this year to complete the asset mapping for the northwest region.

The Up North Trails Collaborative has also received enough donations to develop the initial Up North Trail Towns website, so the Land Information Access Association (LIAA) has been hard at work on the site. In the words of the LIAA graphic designer, the design recreates the nostalgic “up north” adventure feeling people associate with northern Michigan.  Keep updated as to the progress by visiting the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments website.  

MSU Extension has had a unique partnership relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension and the NLEA provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

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