Ruining Wetlands

Asked October 16, 2020, 7:55 PM EDT

Glen Arbor wants to bring Heritage Trail bike trail through the heart of town down M-22. It is already unsafe walking and riding a bike, presently it is safely going behind where there is less traffic. Going down M-22 they will have to either fill in part of the wetland for asphalt or put some kind of boardwalk, in both cases this will disrupt the wetlands. When they get close to the intersection of M-22 and 675 they want to divert off M-22 and go across the wetlands over 300' boardwalk than comeback to M-22. They could keep going straight instead of diverting but they claim the road would be to narrow, I think they have too much money and they don't care about wetlands. All this construction is only the half of the destruction, countless trees will be cut down and plant life. It is a tragedy. What do you suggest?

Leelanau County Michigan

1 Response

The Heritage Trail is a regional asset that requires a great deal of cooperation and coordination with local, state, and federal entities. Given the proximity to nationally treasured resources, it seems that many alternatives would have been considered in the Environmental Assessment. The assessment can be found at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=165&projectID=23432&documentID=26175.

Planning for these trails is both a technical and political task and numerous alternatives must be considered for the safety of the user, the environment, accessibility, and adjacent land uses. It goes without saying that not everyone is going to agree and disagreement sometimes makes the project better. Finding allies or project partners to explain your concerns, such as Glen Arbor Township, may be a good starting point.

If you are not already involved in the planning of the trail, I encourage you to visit sleepingbeartrail.org to learn more, and to contact the Township about their planning process. I understand that the Township completed a trail feasibility study in 2017. Looking through that document may be helpful in understanding why that stretch of wetland is currently the preferred option for the trail location rather than M-22. As they move forward with a contract for actual trail design, a new round of review will take place with a number of local, state, and federal agencies. At least one of those agencies (if not more) will be considering the wetland issue -- and the road issue-- and weighing the options and impacts. Perhaps the boardwalk creates short term impacts during construction, but the long term impacts are less. Stay in the loop on those permits and processes and how the state and federal experts weigh short and long term environmental impacts. Perhaps there are mitigation strategies that can be required as well.

On a personal note, I was up in Glen Arbor in June and we road our bikes everywhere for three days. I can appreciate the need to expand the system of trails thoughtfully.

This is a rather specific local question-- but I hope that this helps to consider the larger process.