SAUGATUCK, Mich.—Kayakers, cyclists and regional planners from a four-state area will gather Thursday and Friday, Nov. 8-9, for the Lake Michigan Trail Conference to formalize the development of a "multi-modal" kayak, biking/hiking and motor trail around the entire Lake Michigan shoreline. Dr. David Lemberg, a Western Michigan University associate professor of geography, is helping to spearhead those efforts and is serving as conference coordinator.
"The objective of this conference will be to establish a long-distance recreational trail, similar in scope to the Appalachian Trail, but one that highlights the vast natural beauty of the Lake Michigan shoreline and the many historic, recreational and cultural offerings along its 1,640 mile-long coastline," Lemberg says.
The goal is to work with conference participants from the four states to connect the efforts in each state and create a unified vision for a world-class, multi-modal trail.
Recreational users and planning agencies in all four states around the lake have been working independently for years to develop kayak and canoe trails, cross country bicycle routes, hiking trails and motor routes such as the Lake Michigan Circle Tour to attract visitors and outdoor enthusiasts to the Lake Michigan shore. Conference organizers say the meeting will provide an opportunity to integrate these independent regional efforts into a new type of tri-modal trail through a collaborative planning process.
Guest speakers include Patricia Birkholz, former state senator, former director of the Office of the Great Lakes for Gov. Rick Snyder and member of the Great Lakes Commission; Dave Lorenz, manager of public, media and industry relations for Travel Michigan; and Virgina Sullivan, special projects director of the Adventure Cycling Association and coordinator of the U.S. Bike Route System.
Conference hosts include the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Coastal Zone Management Program, the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association, the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Adventure Cycling Association.
The conference is being made possible by a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Coastal Zone Management Program. Registration is free but is limited to 150 participants.