West End Update – City of Negaunee

IOHT a community gem

Nate Heffron, city manager, city of Negaunee

NEGAUNEE — The Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority has a new home in Downtown Negaunee at the heart of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.

IOHTA now shares a building with the West End/Negaunee YMCA. IOHRA Trail Administrator Bob Hendrickson said the move could bring more visibility and accessibility for the authority.

“This new location centrally locates the staff and businesses operations of the IOHT,” Hendrickson said, “and provides a higher profile opportunity being at street level with easier access”.

Some might say this new location might be fitting, given the that Negaunee is the birthplace of multi-purpose interactive trail. What was once a dream to a small group of dedicated individuals became a reality when the first shovel was placed in the ground on August 2, 2008, a project 20-years in the making!

Those not familiar with what the IOHRA is, it a governmental authority established in 2004 to build and maintain a trail network throughout Marquette County. The trail is a 47-mile, multi-use, year-round trail that connects communities and people to the region’s historic sites and human stories. The trail was designed for walkers, bikers, runners, inline skaters, wanderers, horseback riders, people in wheelchairs, snowmobilers, history buffs.

Here are some of the benefits and amenities of the trail listed on the ironoreheritage.com site: It connects the largest populations in the County of Marquette and travels through their downtowns providing the amenities trail users want and need. It is an interpretive trail that showcases the role of the iron ore mining industry to the State of Michigan and the United States. Our interpretation program repurposes the actual rail that was used in the rail lines and fabricates it into mile markers and interpretive signage frames. This program not only used recycling, but stays true to the “iron” ore heritage story.

Promotes cooperation among jurisdictions and trail users.

Provides a trail that highlights our County’s diverse environments from hugging the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline, traversing the three cities with their historic sandstone structures, skirting along the iron mining pits of the 18th and 19th centuries, crossing many creeks and rivers in the rural areas, and connecting the many neighborhoods along the trail.

The authority is funded through a .197 tax millage passed by each local taxing authorities’ residences and grants.

Hendrickson said the IOHRA will be busy for the next several years working on a number of projects along the trail network. Many of their projects are made possible through grants under the State of Michigan Trust Fund and Recreation Passport grants. Some of projects are listed below:

A land acquisition of 176 acres in Marquette Township. This project will eventually include new hiking and biking trails, in partnership with the NTN.

The Negaunee Marshland Boardwalk Project. A $350k project that provides access to trail-side marshes and interpretive information on the importance of wetland habits. A project partial funded by the Michigan DNR Trust Fund.

A land accusation of several acres with in Negaunee that will finally provide legal westward ORV access.

The Lakenenland Trail Expansion Project. A project that will expand the IOHT east to Lakeland in 2025, by 5-miles. Bring the total trial miles to 52.

We here at the City of Negaunee and the DDA are extremely happy to see the IOHRA headquarters based in our downtown! We strongly believe that the move will only help to strengthen the organization, provide better services to trail users, and put all involved on the path to new opportunities. We know with this move that the IOHRA will help us all Forge Adventures, not only in Negaunee, but along their whole trail network!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nate Heffron is city manager of the city of Negaunee.


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