Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail (FBVT) and Betsie Valley Trailway Management Council are announcing the official approval of a $150,000 Michigan DNR Recreational Passport grant. The funds, which require a minimum of 25% additional matching, will be used to reconstruct a 1.5-mile non-motorized segment of the Betsie Valley Trail in Beulah from downtown to County Farm Road.

When complete, the reconstructed trail will increase accessibility and linkages to the recreational opportunities and natural resources that abound along the 22-mile Betsie Valley Trail including Crystal Lake, the Railroad Point Natural Area, the Betsie River and Betsie Bay, the dunes and harbor of Frankfort and the Pere Marquette State Forest.

Acceptance of the BVT grant application was the outcome of a scoring system which included over 20 various criteria — the highest weighting going to rationale, universal design, financial needs of the applicant, priority, maintenance of the site, and past per capita grant assistance. There were 70 grants approved and the BVT application had the 3rd highest score, which affirms the value of the trail and the “worth” of the project.

Jed Maker, Chairman of the Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail commented, “At this point, our project has been approved by the DNR for funding, but a formal grant has not been made. We are now preparing a Project Agreement (PA) to ensure the project will be implemented according to DNR standards. We are also required to demonstrate local matching funds are in place and we are asking local businesses and community members to contribute now to this important project in order for us to reach the minimum $50,500 in matching funds.”

Maker continued, “The project, once completed, will go a long way toward improving trail users’ experience, as well as addressing some wishes of private property owners along that trail segment. We anticipate improvements in trail surface irregularities, resolving drainage issues, separation and demarcation of the trail from Crystal Ave, and reduction of bike traffic on the road. At the same time, the trail in that particular area is challenged by topographical extremes, storm water surges, pressures on local government resources, and long standing legal agreements. These factors will continue to pose a threat to the fragile nature of that trail segment.”

“We’re excited about the prospect of making significant improvements to the Crystal Avenue segment,” commented John Rothhaar, volunteer Trail Care Coordinator.  “The section of trail along Crystal Avenue hasn’t been in good shape and both trail users and neighbors have expressed a strong desire for improvements.”

Rothhaar continued, “We want folks to understand there are special legal provisions that currently limit what we can do to the trail between Beulah and Mollineaux Road. One of the current limitations does not allow us to pave the trail, even though many users have requested it. We do believe, however, that laying down a new hard-packed surface will be a significant improvement. The grant should also allow us to address some of the drainage and run-off issues in that area, as well.”

Though Rothhaar cautions, “Even after the trail rehabilitation is complete, we expect to face ongoing maintenance challenges due to the proximity of the street, run-off from the hillside, and the concentration of houses and cottages. To preserve and protect the improved trail, we’re looking at various ways to demarcate the trail, so vehicles and boat trailers do not drive or park on it.  We’ll be reminding folks to keep boat hoists and other equipment safely off the trail and to help keep the trail clean of sand or other material. We’ll be reaching out to the trail’s neighbors to get their input and support for finding ways to make the improvements last.”

At this point in time, we are not able to estimate the length and duration of the project or what the limits to trail use will occur during construction. To keep updated on the on the progress of the project, add your email to our subscriber list using the form below. You’re also encouraged to follow our Facebook page.

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