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New Grants to Improve Access and Accessibility

Michelle Nichols, Grant Coordinator

The Metroparks Planning and Development Department has been working diligently to expand trail connectivity throughout the parks while trying to improve accessibility of the trails. Several grants received in May and June will aid in this effort.

Two grants to the Metroparks Foundation, one from REI Co-op and one from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund for Design & Access, will focus on the multi-use Shelden Trail Redevelopment at Stony Creek Metropark in Oakland County. This is the second year that each of these organizations contributed to this project. The Shelden Trails comprise 14 miles of trails over 670 acres of forested land amid the remnants of the old Shelden farm estate. In 2018, the Metroparks hired Applied Trails Research to review the existing trail system and redevelop the trails with the objectives of user safety, sustainability, habitat protection, handcycles/adaptive mountain bike usability, and an overall fun trail experience for all users. With a final design approved, the Shelden Trails are ready for Phase I construction.

Grant monies from REI Co-op ($14,400) and CFSEM ($50,000) will be combined with previously received grants, contributions, and the funds from the Howlin’ at the Moon event for a total of $162,778 raised for the project to date. It is anticipated that Phase I construction on the beginner/family single-track loop, approximately 2.5 miles of trail, will begin this fall. This phase will include a connection from the trails to Snell Road which has planned pathways to the Paint Creek Trail and the future Stony Creek Ravine Nature Park trails. For more information on the Shelden Trails project, go to https://www.metroparks.com/sheldentrails/.

The Clinton River Area Mountain Bike Association (CRAMBA) has been in full support of this project and will be volunteering their trail renovation skills as part of the redevelopment work. CRAMBA members, Metroparks staff, and others recently participated in a day-long volunteer training workshop run by Applied Trails Research. The work provided by these volunteers will help to lower the overall cost of trail redevelopment.

Complementary to this project is a grant received from the League of Michigan Bicyclists Micro-Grant Program for $1,800 in support of a new handcycle. This handcycle will become part of the fleet of rental bicycles at Stony Creek Metropark. Visitors will be able to rent the handcycle for use on the paved pathways, and once completed, it can be used on the beginner loop of the Shelden Trails. The Metroparks have partnered with PEAC (Programs to Educate All Cyclists), Detroit Disability Power, and Think Beyond the Chair to promote the use of the handcycle at Stony Creek Metropark.

The Metroparks also received two grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources through its Iron Belle Trail (IBT)-Challenge Grant program to offer enhancements to the existing IBT that runs through its parks.

The first grant will provide $38,742 towards an Iron Belle Trailhead project at Dexter-Huron Metropark in Washtenaw County. This project will provide a 10-foot wide accessible path from the existing paved parking lot to the IBT, add striping and signage for two handicap van parking spaces, and aid in safety by removing existing bollards and striping a maintenance drive crossing.

The second IBT grant will provide $43,350 towards an Iron Belle Trail Signage project in Lower Huron, Willow, and Oakwoods Metroparks in Wayne County where nearly 14 miles of park trails connect to form this section of the IBT. This project focuses on signage and amenities to improve trail navigability and user safety. Included in the project at various locations in the three parks are three major trailhead signs, five minor trailheads, two bicycle/wheelchair repair stations, various trail crossing improvements, and accessibility improvements.

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