Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 13, 2013

Charting a Course

TRAVERSE CITY — More than 100 miles of a northern Michigan water trail will be more navigable with the help of a map that details each access point along the way.

The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, through a $15,000 Coastal Zone Management grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and a matching gift from the Huckle Family Foundation, are working toward charting a route along the Chain of Lakes leading to East Grand Traverse Bay.

"We have 151 access points gleaned from existing county and publicly available plans. We have to determine whether or not they are well-developed and should be promoted," said Megan Olds, associate director of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

This proposed water trail begins in northern Antrim County near Ellsworth and continues through the Chain of Lakes, entering East Bay in Elk Rapids and along both coasts of East Bay and along the Old Mission Peninsula.

The trail is designed for small, non-motorized boats including kayaks and canoes and will pass numerous parks and natural areas along the way.

"The waterway is a resource that has always been available; being able to map a trip will make it more accessible for everyone," Olds said.

Volunteers will help determine the final trail route as they collect data, photograph features and identify seasonal highlights or hazards.

"We need people who live in the communities, with intimate knowledge of the areas, who can tell us if an area is just a road end or if it is suitable as an access point," she said.

Once access points are established, Conservancy officials will decide where areas for improvement exist, such as making some points universally accessible or repairing docks.

"You will know if you want to take your family out for an afternoon of kayaking, how far you can go and how long it should take you to get there," Olds said.

Maps will be available for trail users, as well as area businesses that provide services for tourists and water sport enthusiasts.

Eventually, Olds said, markers will identify points along the trail.

A meeting for interested volunteers will be held Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Old Village Hall, 321 Bridge St. in Elk Rapids.

For more information, call the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy at 929-7911.

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