The Natural Resources Trust Fund continues to be a critical source of funding for major projects in the Huron River watershed. In the 2020 grant cycle, about $880,000 will go to five important projects, two of which are immediately along the Huron River Water Trail. The Huron River Watershed Council supported each of these projects.
In Milford, improvements to Central Park are moving forward with an award of $43,800. This project will build a walking trail and an accessible canoe/kayak launch in Milford’s Central Park. The Village of Milford is an official Trail Town on the Huron River Water Trail. The new accessible launch location will further integrate the natural river corridor with the Village of Milford, enhancing Central Park as Milford’s gateway to the water trail. (The EZ Launch accessible kayak launch at the Gallup Canoe Livery, pictured above).
In Ypsilanti, a proposal for a non-motorized crossing at Huron Street over I-94 was awarded $300,000. The project will transform a crossing that currently has no pedestrian route and enhance connectivity in the community and among major land trails in the Huron River corridor.
The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority was awarded funding for two projects totaling $492,700. In Dexter-Huron Metropark, improvements to a picnic area, parking, and river access will move forward in one of the most popular stretches of the water trail. A floating, universal access launch is a part of this project. Improvements here will improve many land and water trails that periodically intersect along the river. Further down river in Lower Huron Metropark, an extension of the Iron Belle Trail will better connect the metroparks to Belleville and the surrounding communities. This has potentially huge benefits for connecting land and water trails. This area has historically been challenging to navigate by bike or by foot.
In Hamburg Township, a bridge will be revitalized along the Lakelands Trail, a popular land trail that will connect communities along the Upper Huron River, between Island Lake and Pinckney State Recreation Areas. The Lakelands Trail is a great way for anglers with a bike to get to their favorite fishing spots, and it provides an excellent route to connect a pedal-paddle trip along the Upper Huron.
The $880,000 in funds from this trust fund cycle, along with $1.28 million in the last cycle that benefitted the water trail, demonstrate how valuable the river corridor is to area residents. These investments are well worth it. More than 125,000 unique visitors enjoy the Huron River in a given year, and during the pandemic, recreational use of the river was as high as 400% of normal in some locations. These improvements will help the water trail bear the growth in visitation and use, preserving the natural features that make the Huron River a special natural resource in Southeast Michigan.