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(State of Michigan)

LOWER MUSKEGON WATERSHED The lower Muskegon watershed consists of five counties, which are Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newago, Osceola. The watershed ultimately drains westward into Lake Michigan.

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NEWAYGO COUNTY, MI This county is filled with over 230 natural lakes and hundreds of miles of streams and rivers. It has a population of 48,460 and covers 861.4 square miles. It is composed of 97% land and 3% water. Over 50% of Newaygo county is part of the Manistee National Forest and is home to three very large dams. Camping, fishing, hunting, cross country skiing, and bicycling are common in the Manistee National Forest. Newaygo is also home to 16 historical sites. With an average of less than 60 people per square mile, there is not a large amount of development to this county. Tourism is the most important economic activity in Newaygo, therefore creating a greenway through this county and could increase the county’s incoming revenue. As a major place for tourism, there are many cabins and vacation homes owned by people intending to use it them as getaway or seasonal house.

MESCOSTA COUNTY, MI Mescosta County was named after Chief Mecosta, the leader of the Native American Potawatomi tribe that once traveled the local waterways. This county is now home to the wellknown Ferris State College. The population is approximately 42,800 people with a population density just over 70 people per square mile. The county spans 571.1 square miles with approximately 97% land and under 3% of it being water features. Like many other counties in this area, the tourism industry is still a vital source of income due to its numerous lakes, rivers, and streams, which provide limitless outdoor activities to residents and visitors alike. This county also thrives off of successful recent development and its great educational programs.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, MI Founded in 1840, Osceola County is 573.1 square miles in size and consists of approximately 99% land and only 1% water features. Osceola country has a small population of around 23,100 people and the population density is 41 people per square mile.Over 50% of the land here is forest, 41% is agriculture, and the rest is comprised of housing, industrial, and commercial land. With an extensive trail and park system and hundreds of acres of state forest, Osceola provides and great place for tourists who enjoy the outdoors. One key feature about this county is the fact that it is the only place in the state where two Rails-to-Trails cross one another, thus providing snowmobilers, bikers, joggers, and others great east to west and north to south trail access.

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MONTCALM COUNTY, MI Montcalm County was named after a French commander from the French and Indian war. The county is now home to over 61,000 people. This county has an area of just over 720 square miles, with more than 98% of that area being land. Just like the other counties, this place is a very popular tourism area with many lakes and recreational attractions. Apart from tourism, agriculture, mainly potatoes, is a strong prominent source of income for the county.

MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI The most heavily populated county in our project is Muskegon County. Having a population of over 173,000 people, Muskegon has become a tourist destination for people all over the United States. Muskegon County is also the largest county in the study area with 1459.3 square miles of land. One major difference between this county and the others in our project is that the majority (65%) of this county is made up of water features. This county is home to many beautiful lakes, streams, parks, and 23 recognized landmarks. Muskegon also hosts numerous festivals and large events throughout the year. Connecting a greenway through this area could greatly increase the area’s accessibility, economy and overall appeal. The Muskegon ferry also harbors those traveling by foot, bicycle or vehicle from Muskegon MI to Milwaukee, WI throughout a good portion of the year. The fact that this ferry brings many people in and out of the state presents an excellent opportunity to attract many people to our greenway, rendering it a prudent investment.

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PROJECT SUMMARY The lower Muskegon watershed provides a great opportunity for trail development. With many natural, suburban and urban areas and points of interest scattered throughout, it is an ideal area for greenway planning and construction. The already existing networks of trails and greenways further justify the expansion and connection between the areas to provide a comprehensive system of alternative transportation and recreational activity. A Greenway is a corridor of land categorized by its ability to connect people and places together. These corridors can be geared towards pedestrians, bikers or both and can pass through all different types of land use including urban, suburban/residential and rural/natural areas. Greenways are an effective way to help the sustainability, social health, and the environmental and economic aspects of the lower Muskegon watershed. There are many benefits that will come from creating this proposed greenway. Greenways create economic value through activity and connectivity, increase the value of surrounding development and help develop circulation networks for pedestrians and cyclists. Many areas of residential development fail to offer such connectivity corridors, which forces people to drive distances they would be able to easily walk or bike if such transportation were accommodated. A comprehensive trail network, as part of the local transportation system, will offer effective transportation alternatives by connecting homes, workplaces, schools, parks, downtown and shopping districts, and many other destinations. A greenway creates a place for recreation, allowing residents to circulate through urbanized areas efficiently and safely. In America today, recreation and improving our overall health is extremely important. With such high population densities, it is very important to address this issue in urban areas. The more natural regions of the greenway allow for transportation and connectivity with minimal impact on the surrounding environment and ecosystems. A decrease in overall vehicle traffic ultimately leads to the reduction of air. The greenway will promote environmental health and preservation, thus protecting plant species that create oxygen and filter out air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and airborne particles of heavy metal. Also, greenways create a buffer zone that protect streams, rivers, lakes, and prevent soil erosion. These trail systems also offer a unique opportunity to get people out into the natural environment and educate them. Finally greenways can help enhance cultural awareness and community identity by linking local heritage and historic sites to high density areas. We are proposing that this greenway be built in three different phases. Complete streets in urban areas, ADA accessible trails in suburban areas and natural trails in rural. The complete streets phase will add 5’ (4.5’ minimum where necessary) bike lanes along existing road corridors through dense urban areas. In suburban areas, where residential property abuts trail systems, we propose an ADA compliant, accessible trail constructed of a compacted subgrade and a crushed concrete surface. In rural areas, we will create natural trails to minimize impact on the surrounding ecosystems and habitats.

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PROJECT FUNDING There are a number of programs and organizations, as well as private investment from donors which we will pursue to fund our proposed greenway project. Recreational Trails Program Grants: Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources Purpose: To fund the development and maintenance of recreational trails and related facilities. Criteria: - Project need and benefit - Site and project quality - Balance among project types - Balance among trail uses - Geographic distribution of projects - Balance among programs and divisions Recreational Improvement Fund Grants: Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources Purpose: To fund the development, operation and maintenance of recreational trails and restoration of lands damaged by off-road vehicles and inland lake cleanup. Criteria: - Project need and benefit - Site and project quality - Balance among project types - Balance among trail uses - Geographic distribution of projects - Balance among programs and divisions Clean Michigan Initiative: Source: MDNRE, Waterways Fund, Federal Coastal Zone Management, Land & Water Conservation Fund grants Purpose: To fund the development and renovation of public recreational facilities.

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Lower Muskegon Watershed  

This was a collaborative research and design project which highlights the use of GIS Mapping. The project entails the addition of a connect...

Lower Muskegon Watershed  

This was a collaborative research and design project which highlights the use of GIS Mapping. The project entails the addition of a connect...