by ANDREW NEAL
Several more trail projects are coming to Shelby Township this year, an area already established with an abundant web of parks and connecting trails.
The Shelby Parks & Recreation Department was awarded nearly $1 million in grants to expand the system.
Parks & Recreation and the Charter Township of Shelby were awarded a $300,000 trust fund grant for their part in the Iron Belle Trail, an ambitious set of state-long trails that will span from Iron Mountain in the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit.
The 1,273 mile hiking trail will hug the west coast of the lower peninsula. On its route, the 791 mile biking trail will stick to the east side of the state and pass through Shelby Township on its way to Detroit.
The idea for the trail system started back in 1995 and when it is complete, it will be the longest designated state trail in the nation. Joe Youngblood, Director of the Shelby Parks and Recreation Department says of the ambitious trail, “they saw what Shelby Township has done over the years here and they figure they’ll come right through here. So we are working on that now.”
Another grant for approximately $600,000 has been received to connect the Macomb Orchard Trail to Gene Shepherd Park. The trail will head south on the east side of Dequindre, cross the light at 23 Mile Road, and head east into Gene Shepherd Park.
“That’s a section we’re going to be working on in the spring,” says Youngblood. That totals nearly $1 million of funds allocated through grants for Shelby expansion of its trail system.
And they’re not finished. Youngblood says the department has already begun to hash out future plans for when the aforementioned projects are finished.
“Once these two different phases are completed we will be looking to connect River Bends Park heading up to Holland Ponds and into Gene Shepherd Park.”
Shelby Township is already home to hundreds of miles of trails and 1,200 acres of public parks.
“We’re just trying to do what we can to help improve the quality of life for our residents here in Shelby Township,” says Youngblood.
The Parks Department, with the support of the Shelby Township Board of Trustees, are doing their part to live up to Michigan’s reputation as “The Trail State.”