By Natalie Henley
The idea for the Grand River to become a water trail has long been discussed and now the Grand River Water Trails Project is currently in the planning stages!
Water trails are designated routes specifically designed and implemented to foster educational and recreational experiences for non-motorized watercraft (canoeing, kayaking, etc.). They are similar to hiking or biking trails, except these trails are located on the water! The difference between a water trail and a river is that, a water trail is organized, supported, and managed.
Throughout the past few months, I have researched this project and have completed field work by visiting access or launch sites to the Grand River. I have found that quite a few of the access sites could use more amenities, including restrooms, signage, boat storage, and drinking fountains.There is also a need for more access sites to be developed along the Grand River. By having more access in and out of the river, trip planning and safety would be
Many benefits would come out of this project. These include recreational, economic, environmental, and cultural benefits!
While a few partnerships exist in this program, we have hopes to get more groups involved. Recently, I have been giving presentations to township and city boards along the Grand River in Kent and Ionia counties. By inviting these communities to be a part of the conversation, we should see greater success in the project. So far, we have received resolutions of support from the City of Lowell, the City of Walker, and the Parks and Recreation Board of Ada Township.
Interested in learning more about water trails and the assessment WMEAC completed on the Ottawa Grand River Heritage Water Trail? Check out the report at: https://wmeac.org/water/west-michigan-water-trail/