Middle Grand River designated as one of the first state water trails

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) announced the selection of the Middle Grand River Water Trail as one of the first waterways in Michigan to be a state-designated water trail at the end of 2018.

A total of eight waterways, covering over 540 miles that flow through more than a dozen counties, were selected as part of the DNR’s new water trails program.

Over the past several months, the DNR has worked on creating a water trails program with the goal of announcing the first designations in 2018.

In order to apply for water trail designation, local water trail organizations had to have established water trail plans that addressed components such as safety, stewardship, historic and cultural resources, education opportunities, funding, signage, management and development, local land and water use laws, and marketing and promotion.

DNR’s state trails coordinator, Paul Yauk states “Outdoor recreation-based tourism is experiencing major growth right now. Designating these rivers as official water trails shines an even brighter light on some incredible natural resources. We fully expect that offering – and expanding – water trail opportunities in Michigan will encourage more outdoor recreation and healthier lifestyles, and also serve as regional destinations that will give a boost to local economies”

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (Tri-County) partnered with the Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds (MGROW) to create a water trail development plan for the Middle Grand River. This partnership was key in making the Middle Grand River eligible for the program.

The Middle Grand River Water Trail has 33 access sites that are owned and operated by government entities that will provide a variety of experiences for paddlers.

Where to get on and off the river (access sites): 
Adado Park – East
Adado Park – West
Bunker Road Landing
Burchard Park – North Lansing Dam
Burchfield Park
Charlotte Highway – Portland
Danford Island Park – Dimondale
Erdman Road End
Fitzgerald Park – Grand Ledge Dam
Fulton Park
Grand River Park and Boat Launch
Grand Woods Park
Hunters Orchard Park
Jaycee Park – Grand Ledge
Jones Road
Lansing City Market
Lions Community Park – Dimondale
Lyons Dam
McArthur Park – Eaton Rapids
McNamara Landing
Mill Street – Eaton Rapids
Moores Dam and Park
Portland Municipal Dam
Riverbend Natural Area
Second Island Park – Grand Ledge
Smithville Park
Sweeneys Landing
Tabor Street Boat Ramp – Lyons
Thompson Field – Portland
Webber Dam Access – WestWebber Dam Access – East

“The connectivity and accessibility of our region’s water trails and amenities greatly improve the quality of life of Greater Lansing’s residents and visitors and make our region a more competitive place to live and play,” said Cliff Walls, Tri-County’s environmental sustainability planner.

“A larger, vetted state program offers an incredible economic value to the state, and this designation is a terrific opportunity to promote our region as a recreational river destination that complements our broader trails system. We expect the water trail development plan will also strengthen future grant applications for projects aiming to improve user experience, safety, and access of the river.”

The next steps for the water trail program include finalizing a draft Middle Grand River Water Trail Development Plan and creation of signage, guidebooks and other resources for the Middle Grand River.

The draft Middle Grand River Water Trail Development Plan is available here. 

Article was adapted from Tri-County’s original article, found here.