- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A roughly 250-mile water trail running the length of the Grand River in Michigan is in the early planning stages, with state officials looking for local input on the idea.

The state Department of Natural Resources is talking with cities, counties and townships along the river about prospects for the trail. Marc Miller, regional initiatives deputy for the DNR, said the agency wants “a locally led, bottom-up approach to this.”

The trail would include signs for access and portage points; information on local heritage, businesses and attractions; and minor infrastructure such as kayak and canoe locking racks or storage containers, The Grand Rapids Press reported (https://bit.ly/1EHgi31 ).

Michigan already is backing efforts to create water trails along its Great Lakes shoreline, with its Michigan Water Trail program. A website directs kayakers, canoeists and non-motorized boaters to launching and landing sites along water routes.

This year, the Traverse City-based Land Information Access Association got $71,000 from the state Department of Environmental Quality to help 10 Michigan communities develop water trails. The grant was part of $342,000 the DEQ spread around for state water trail development this year.

“We recognize there’s a growing interest in water trails, kayaking and canoeing and we want to help people take advantage,” said DNR spokesman Ed Golder.

The trail would stretch from the Jackson area to Grand Haven, but it could be divided into segments depending on local interest. The route would follow the same path as the once-per-decade Grand River Expedition last done in 2010 to assess the river’s health.

The river winds past numerous communities on its 252-mile route to Lake Michigan, including Lansing and Grand Rapids.

“I won’t say we’ve hit everyone, but we’ve had some very good conversations,” Miller said. “There’s a good deal of interest in this shared vision.”

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Online:

https://www.michiganwatertrails.org

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, https://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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