This past year has been a wonderful learning experience for both myself and our committee. As we have progressed past our first major trail section completion from downtown Oscoda to the Oscoda School Complex, we continue to move forward and have secured funding for the next two sections of trail.
Phase 3 is what we have labeled the next section of trail from the school to Old Orchard Park. This 5.3 mile section of trail will wind its way through the national forest, Foote Site Village and end at the entrance to Old Orchard Park Campground, a 500 plus site facility sitting on the shores of Foote Pond. At a total cost of $2.5 million, funding sources such as the Transportation Alternative Program(TAP) through MDOT and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund(MNRTF) through the MDNR as well as the Iron Belle Trust Fund, the Iron Belle Trail Fund, Iosco County, Oscoda Township and the MEDC through a crowd funding program called Patronicity all funds are committed and construction is expected to begin in the latter part of 2022.
Phase 4 is what we have labeled the south leg of our trail. This section is routed along US23 south of AuSable/Oscoda from the bridge to a point just north of Gowen Road near the AuSable/Baldwin Township line. The current Iosco county bike path extends from our south Iosco County line in Alabaster Township along US23 to just south of the AuSable/Baldwin Township line. Phase 4 will give us the ability to connect these trails to provide access through Iosco County. This 4.4 mile long section has a cost of $2.7 million again with funding sources such as the Transportation Alternative Program(TAP) through MDOT and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund(MNRTF) and the Recreation Trails Program(RTP) both through the MDNR as well as the Iron Belle Trust Fund, the Iron Belle Trail Fund and AuSable Township. While these funds are noticed for this project they cannot be committed until they are formally allocated by the respective government agencies and final permits and clearances from the respective agencies are in hand. Construction is expected to begin in early 2023.
While this continues to be a long process which at times can be frustrating coordinating multiple non-profits, four federal agencies(USFS,USFW,FHWA,FERC), three local townships, two state agencies(MDOT,MDNR), two engineering firms(Rowe,Spicer), one power company with two real estate departments (CMS-hydro, CMS-realestate) and a-partridge-in-a-pear-treeeee…….sorry got a little carried away there. We have still maintained our focus and goals through hard work on the part of our committee and its members. Most of these agencies and organizations have representatives at the table and have been committed partners from the start. For that we are extremely thankful as this has been one of the reasons for our success.
We are also working through our sub-committee of the Iosco Bike and Trails to revitalize an abandoned horse trail and turn it into a mountain bike course. This trail is in the Champagne Hill/Foote Pond overlook area and is called the Wildcat Trail. More information on this trail can be found on our website.
None of this could be possible without the dedication and support of key volunteers on our committee. From planning and executing our 1st Annual Cornhole Tournament(we hope to continue this next year) to setting up the Giving Tuesday program and attending the IET canopy events for Farm Bureau Blue Berry Farm Breakfast and Eagle Point Fall open house where we sold our water bottles and T’s to raise funds. And raising funds to cover the cost of trail maintenance is our goal.
Constructing the trail is only the start of our responsibility. The main role that the IET has is the future maintenance of this trail system. We have started planning now to meet that obligation by budgeting for future trail expenses and planning fund raising programs to enhance these funds. As a 501c)3 organization we seek out donations, donors and volunteers to help us achieve these goals. Our committee members work to find grants that are available and continue to solicit donations for our cause. If any of you would like to donate or volunteer we would be grateful for the assistance and you would get an opportunity to be part of a program that will leave its mark on our community forever. Also if any organization or activities that you are involved with would like to help the IET through contributions of either time or funds we would welcome the chance to speak with you or your group.
We can always be reached through our website www.ioscoexplorationtrail.org or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your support and we look forward to hearing from you.
Iosco Exploration Trail