Data collection for Lake Michigan access sites is currently underway. To monitor progress on the development of water trails in the region and across the state, please visit Michigan's Great Lakes Water Trails.
In November 2012 a coalition formed between the Land Information Access Association (LIAA) and four regional planning organizations (NMCOG, WMSRDC, SWMPC, EUPRPDC) to put Lake Michigan coastal water trail development in high gear. Thanks to a Coastal Zone Management Grant from the DEQ, these partners aim to complete a contiguous water trail and form a statewide geographic database for Lake Michigan.
Each regional planning agency is charged with identifying water trails in their region as well as the individual access points that comprise the trails. Volunteers will be recruited, trained and equipped to collect information and submit it to Michigan's Great Lakes Water Trails website. Local stakeholder groups such as local governments, economic development agencies, and land/water advocacy organizations are to be included in the discussions on identifying trails.
After paddling data and images are gathered, partners will also collect community asset data to populate and add real value to the website. Descriptions of the extensive community, cultural, natural and recreational assets of the region will be included on the website.
What is a water trail?
Water trails form a growing part of the State's outdoor recreation economy. According to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association, 63% of Michigan residents participate in outdoor recration every year leading to $18.7 billion in consumer spending and $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.
The American Canoe Association (ACA) defines a water trail as meeting the following five requirements:
The trail must be a contiguous or semi contiguous waterway or series of waterways that is open to recreational use by paddlers
The trail must have public access points for paddlers
The trail must be covered by a map, guide, signage, or website that is of reasonable quality an detail and available to the public
Published or printed materials for the trail (e.g. guidebook, map, sign, website) must communicate low-impact ethics to trail users
The trail must be supported and/or managed by one or more organizations