Yooper bike trail pitched
Dickinson Co. official addresses county board
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 7:00 PM
MENOMINEE - A Dickinson County commissioner sought Menominee County's support for a combined bike trail along the southern part of the Upper Peninsula - a proposal she plans on taking to Michigan's Gov. Rick Snyder personally.
An enthusiastic Barbara Kramer described her plan to the county board Tuesday evening in a presentation that pointed out all the economic benefits of such a trail to the southern U.P., including Menominee County.
Kramer said that Snyder has proposed a trail from Belle Isle to Ironwood, but was looking at establishing a northern route.
She wants to ask Snyder to consider a southern route, through Iron, Gogebic, Dickinson, Menominee, Delta, Schoolcraft and Mackinac counties instead.
She said the economic potential of creating the route along the Michigan/Wisconsin border was huge. And Menominee County ... "you have 115 miles of (roads) along shorelines here and an already prepared area for a bike trail. It could go down M-35 through the city of Menominee to the Menominee River (and north)."
Kramer said that the trail Snyder was proposing in the northern counties would need much more infrastructure than the south for a multi-use trail for bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles.
But while many ATV and snowmobile trails exist in the U.P., there aren't many bike trails, Kramer said.
She shared some of the statistics she had gathered on bicycling and its economic impact, all of which attract tourists, commerce and new seasonal or permanent residents.
In the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan, bicycling contributes $17 billion to the economy, supports 191,000 jobs, generates $2.2 billion in annual federal and state tax revenue and produces $12.1 billion in retail sales and service.
In Wisconsin, which has many developed bike trails, 49 percent of the state residents bicycle; the economic impact is $325 million; the daily average expenditure per person in $60; it has a greater impact than hunting; and 57 percent of the expenditures come from non-residents.
Kramer said an established bike trail can change a community. She used figures from Hayward, Wis., where a bicycle trail was established, and said the area along the trail saw an increase in the number of homes and the price of those homes that were built.
"Trail building increases land value," she said. "A southern route is good for our counties."
Kramer said her proposal asks the governor to start the project in the south, to tap into those cyclists in Wisconsin, but does not exclude the northern counties, which she sees eventually becoming part of a U.P. Loop.
The trail she is proposing has been nicknamed the "Yooper Loop" and has already received the support of the Dickinson, Schoolcraft and Iron county boards; she is meeting with Gogebic this week and Delta and Mackinac in early August.
She also plans on presenting the idea at the Department of Natural Resources conference in October.
Tuesday, she asked Menominee County to lend its support in a resolution, which was proposed to commissioners.
She said Menominee County's shoreline would be attractive to bicyclists, who enjoy riding along scenic areas.
Commissioner Jan Hafeman said the proposed route would bypass other towns and cities in the county, but Kramer said that the county's bike route could grow from the initial route to anything the county and other partners would envision.
County Board Chairman Charlie Meintz said he thought it was a good idea, and said he visited California in June and saw for himself how many people enjoyed biking.
Hafeman said there were not many services along the Menominee River Road and County Road 577 and Lake Township resident Bob Desjarlais said some of the roads along the river in the north were gravelled, but Kramer said bicyclists are accustomed to packing what they need for longer rides, as well as taking advantage of other routes - even mountain bike trails on unpaved roads.
"Single track bikers would take that as an option," she said of the rougher roads and trails that could be designated.
It starts with a plan, she said, "but once you get started, it grows."
Kramer plans on gathering as many resolutions and letters of support as she can and will take them to Snyder's office herself.
"I want to meet with the governor personally," she said.
The board showed support for the resolution, but cannot vote on it until its first meeting in August.