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Michigan's Great Lakes Water Trails Now Flow Online

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – September 25, 2014 – The Great Lakes State just got easier to explore for paddlers.

Thanks to concerted support from Michigan’s Coastal Zone Management Program, water trail information is now available online for nearly every mile of Michigan’s Great Lakes shoreline, as well as for dozens of connecting inland waterways. Visitors to www.michiganwatertrails.org will find digital maps, informational videos, shoreline photos, put-in and take-out locations, a trip planner, and more.

The nonprofit Land Information Access Association (LIAA) developed the website to house and display information about water trails across the state. The site now includes 2,485 miles of water trails along Michigan’s Great Lakes coasts and 1,384 miles of water trails on inland waterways. The website was updated and enhanced over the past year with new data collected by LIAA and over a dozen project partners, including coalitions of regional planning organizations, local governments, paddling enthusiasts and volunteers. In addition to maps with information about facilities and access points, some regions have also included information on local services, attractions and amenities for paddlers, such as places to eat, shop, sleep, and rent or purchase paddling gear.

The statewide effort was initiated by community planners and paddling enthusiasts a few years ago in an effort to improve access to water trail information in Michigan. Recently, there have been a number of major developments for the Michigan paddling community in addition to the website, including:

  • An official water trail along the entire Lake Michigan coastline;
  • An official water trail along Saginaw Bay (within Bay and Arenac counties);
  • Michigan’s first National Water Trail designation by the National Park Service, awarded to the Blueways of St. Clair “Island Loop Trail” in St. Clair County; and
  • At the state level, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is working to establish a formal statewide water trail program.

“Interest and participation in paddlesports is growing, and Michigan is a world-class destination for kayakers, canoeists and paddleboarders,” said Whitney Waara, executive director of LIAA. “But good paddling information wasn’t always easy to find, and it varied widely from region to region. Michiganwatertrails.org will help to promote all the great paddling that can be done in Michigan, and we hope the website will continue to grow in use and in the depth of information we can provide.”

Waara noted that the project helped to refine standards for water trails in Michigan and brought together a wide variety of partners, including four of the large regional planning organizations along Lake Michigan. The water trail standards were developed with National Water Trail designations in mind, a goal that is being pursued by all four states surrounding Lake Michigan.

“Michigan was a little later in starting to organize this kind of information than some other states, so it’s great to see we are catching up,” Waara said.

For more information about water trails in Michigan, visit the Michigan Great Lakes Water Trails website at www.michiganwatertrails.org or contact LIAA at 231-929-3696 or info@liaa.org.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Michigan Office of the Great Lakes

This project was funded, in part, by the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, Department of Environmental Quality Office of the Great Lakes, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

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