Macomb Orchard Trail News
Our next membership meeting will coincide with a trail preview on Tuesday, April 23rd. Note that this is a change in meeting dates from the second Tuesday to the fourth Tuesday of the month. The trail preview will be hosted by the Johnny Appleseed Cider Mill/Golf and Fun Center, 6001 26 Mile Rd., Washington Township, just east of Mound Road and adjacent to the trail. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. and is open to the public. You can walk or bike on the portion of trail between 26 Mile and West Road. Guides will be available to describe frog habitats and other natural features along the trail. Horse drawn wagons will also be available for you to ride.
At 8:00 p.m. there will be an informational meeting in the Golf and Fun Center. Come and meet the community leaders who are making this trail possible. These community leaders will join us to answer questions about plans for development and use of the trail. Informative literature regarding trails and related activities will be available at the meeting.
If you would like assist in serving refreshments or otherwise during the event, please call our Voicemail telephone number (586)997-7271 to volunteer.
Cut off the coupon at the end of this newsletter and bring it to the meeting to receive a free slice of pizza and a 12-ounce soft drink. Additional pizza and soft drinks, as well as other refreshments, will be available at a nominal price.
Beginning with our trail preview event and continuing for the foreseeable future meetings will be held on the fourth Tuesday of each month instead of the second Tuesday. We will continue meeting at Camp Rotary, 20505 29 Mile Rd (E of Wolcott) starting at 7:00 p.m. unless otherwise notified.
In preparation for the April 23rd event, we will be removing debris, leveling and trimming brush along the trail on Saturday April 6th at 9:00 a.m. We will meet in the parking lot of the Johnny Appleseed cider mill. We need workers and tools, such as chain saws, rakes and shovels. If you have a pickup truck or tractor we could use, this would be helpful also. If we encounter inclement weather the cleanup will be moved to the following weekend. Please call our Voicemail telephone number (586)997-7271 to volunteer or to check on the status of the activity if the weather is bad.
We have accumulated a lot of equipment for use in our traveling booth, such as boxes of shirts, maps, tables and our Easy-Up tent. We would like to find a central location where we could store this equipment without paying rent. The storage area would have to be clean and dry, and should be accessible at any time. If you have such a location or know someone who does, please call our Voicemail number at (586)997-7271 to leave a message.
• Representative from five governmental entities have signed the Interlocal agreement, initiating the Macomb Orchard Trail Commission.
• These five hope to get the unsigned communities to join the trail commission even if they cannot pay the $25,000 entry fee immediately.
• Each individual community will develop its own section of the trail.
• A favorable response to the County's application for a $1.6 million grant from MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) to purchase and develop the portion of the trail from Dequindre in Shelby Township to 29 Mile Road in Washington Township is expected in April.
• A similarly favorable response is expected shortly for the County's application for $800,000 from the Greenways Initiative to serve as a local match for the MDOT grant.
• Before any development can begin, the Trail Commission must develop a master plan covering all aspects of development and use.
Our April 23rd Trail Preview event will be your first opportunity to use a portion of the trail. Take advantage of it, because it may be a while before you have another such opportunity. While you're there share your enthusiasm for the trail with the local politicians who will be in attendance. Politicians love input from their constituents, because knowing what you want makes their jobs easier. Right now these leaders are saying it will take two to five years to develop the trail. Telling them what you want, and encouraging them to take quick action will help get the trail developed quicker.
I had hoped to be telling you to get out your tools and flex your muscles to be ready to work on the trail this spring and summer. It appears that we will have to defer that activity, at least until the Trail Commission adopts a master plan, which is a working document for development. But you have a vital role to play through providing input to that document. We'll keep you informed when the Trail Commission holds meetings on the plan.
Meanwhile, our work as trail advocates is only half done, because the boards of Romeo, Bruce Township, Armada Township, Armada Village and Richmond Township have not yet voted to join the Trail Commission. If you live in one of these communities, you can help by continuing to encourage your elected representatives to join. The five original signers of the Interlocal agreement have made it clear that they very much want these other five communities to join the commission and are willing to work out a deferred funding plan in exchange for participation now. Signing the Interlocal agreement will not obligate them to costs beyond the $25,000 entry fee and $5,000 annual maintenance charges. If all communities are members of the commission, it will improve the ability to obtain grants. It will also give the communities voting rights on local issues concerning development and use.
We have a special opportunity to build support in Richmond Township. I just learned that they are planning to have a referendum vote on participating in the trail commission as part of the August primary election. Lessons learned in our narrow defeat in Armada Township will help us (and the citizens of Richmond Township) win this time.
Regarding Armada Township, here is a good example of the effective work you have done. What's that you say, "Effective work?" Absolutely. The attitudes of fear and outright hostility have dwindled to questions and suggestions. The township board's proposed trail ordinance, with some of the most antagonistic provisions imaginable, has been virtually gutted. At a recent public hearing on the proposed trail ordinance, one of the board members even expressed a sincere desire to use the trail. The board has made an offer to purchase property for a community park that straddles the trail, and they acknowledge that this park could provide some of the parking and restroom facilities that they called for in their proposed ordinance. Furthermore, they are inching toward participation in the trail commission. We now have more supporters in Armada Township than in any other area of the county. Friends, these are the fruits of your efforts. Keep up the good work.
The annual Michigander Bike Tour, this year's will be the eleventh, is the Michigan Rails-to-Trails office's major fund raiser and has provided us significant funding. The tour uses rail trails wherever possible. It takes place July 20-26. There are two-day, six-day and seven-day tours available. Most people do either the two-day "weekender" or the six-day tour. The weekender is an easy 42 miles each day mostly on the beautiful Kal-Haven Trail. It runs from Kalamazoo to South Haven and back. The six day tour starts in South Haven and ends at Traverse City, with stops in Holland, Muskegon, Hart, Big Rapid and, Cadillac.
These are both tent-camping tours, but trucks carry all your gear between overnight stops. It's a fun time with several hundred of your best friends. There is some form of entertainment each evening for those who need more than a long ride. Cost for the weekender is $75; the six day tour is $235. Add $15 for the weekender and $35 for the six-day after May 1. Check them out through the national web site: www.railtrails.org. To order an official entry form, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (517) 485-6022. Nancy, Barry or Colleen would love to hear from you.
By Anthony H. Feldhus, MLC Board Secretary
The Macomb Land Conservancy was founded in March of 2000 by a small but determined group of concerned citizens. We were very alarmed by how quickly Macomb County was being converted from farms and woods to new subdivisions and shopping malls. We knew that at the current rate of development, all of Macomb County would be built over by the time our grandchildren were grown. We therefore founded the MLC to begin preserving our rapidly disappearing open lands, farmlands, and natural areas. Thanks to our members, we are making progress towards that goal. We could really use your help, however. How, you say? Here's how:
• Join us! Please consider becoming one of the people working to preserve our legacy for future generations. We need lots more concerned citizens (like you!) to help us accomplish our vision.
• Do you have a bit of free time you can give? We need ready volunteers to help us in any number of projects. If you are interested in helping one or two evenings per month, we can certainly use your services.
• Do you know of anyone who has an undeveloped tract of acreage that they would be willing to donate or sell (preferably at a bargain price!) to the MLC? How about someone who is willing to accept a conservation easement restricting development on their land? We are always looking for "a few good acres".
If your answer to any or all of these questions is "yes", please contact us at the Macomb Land Conservancy. Our phone number is 586-784-5848. Our e-mail address is: email@example.com. Our mailing address is: P.O. Box 332, Romeo, Michigan 48065. (find out more about the MLC by visiting our website at www.savingplaces.org.) We look forward to hearing from you!!