Reprinted from http://blog.mlive.com/
By Eric Gaertner | email@example.com on July 12, 2008 at 1:12 AM, updated July 12, 2008 at 1:30 AM – Follow on Twitter
Musketawa State Trail, a four-seasons recreational trail that covers parts of Muskegon and Ottawa counties, is now among the elite in the nation.
The U.S. Department of Interior recently designated the local paved rail-trail as a National Recreation Trail, joining 22 others in Michigan that have been recognized for connecting people to local resources and improving their quality of life.
Musketawa Trail was one of 24 in 16 states that received the designation this year. Each of the new trails will receive a certificate of designation and trail markers.
The Friends of the Musketawa Trail, a local group of volunteers who have been instrumental in the design, development, maintenance and management of the trail, nominated and filled out the application for the designation. The group features nearly 100 members.
Ed Holovka, the group’s president from North Muskegon, Harold Drake, the group’s treasurer from Ravenna, and Mark Fritsma, a board member from Lowell, worked on the application.
“It puts us on the national registry,” Holovka said of receiving the national designation.
“The designation of the Musketawa State Trail as a National Recreation Trail is an important part of our vision to create a unified system of Michigan trails to connect natural, tourist and urban destinations,” Gov. Jennifer Granholm said in a statement announcing the designation. “I congratulate everyone who helped accomplish this important achievement for our state.”
The trail provides an accessible connection that extends about 26 miles from Marne to just east of Muskegon, allowing users to ride bikes, horses and snowmobiles or to walk, while enjoying various landscapes. Work also continues on the connection of the Musketawa Trail to Muskegon’s Lakeshore Trail.
The work by the volunteer group, the community involvement through donations and interest and the partnership between the state and local units of government were all cited as reasons for the success of the trail and making it worthy of the national honor.
Holovka said the designation is deserved for the trail because of the work of the volunteers and the community’s involvement.
“Volunteers were involved in getting the trail going,” Holovka said. “We literally helped build the trail.”
The Musketawa State Trail was acquired by the Department of Natural Resources in 1991 with funding provided by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. The trail was paved in several phases from 1998 to 2000, becoming the second state trail to be surfaced with asphalt. Federal and state grants, along with grants from local organizations and donations, helped pay for the development of the improvements to the trail.
The four-seasons use that users can participate in on the trail is provided by several management partners, including the Friends of the Musketawa Trail, Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission and West Michigan Snowmobile Council.
The local trail and the other new designated trails join a network of more than 1,000 trails encompassing more than 12,000 miles in the nation.
In 2000, the Musketawa State Trail was designated as a National Millennium Trail.