TAKING CARE: Iron Ore Heritage Trail maintenance involves many miles, many people
MARQUETTE — Maintaining the 47-mile long Iron Ore Heritage Trail — which stretches from Republic to Chocolay Township — is no small task.
Keeping the trail clear and in good condition for users requires a combined effort from the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority and its hired hands and volunteers.
However, trail maintenance doesn’t always just mean clearing brush.
Sometimes it’s a little more unusual.
For example, a wasp nest was found beneath one of the benches along the trail in Negaunee Township on July 13.
Shortly after someone noticed the wasp nest, the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority was notified of the hazard and the nest was removed.
Though the authority’s nine-member board of directors works hard to keep the trail safe and passable, officials also rely on trail users to inform them of potential hazards, Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Area administrator Carol Fulsher said.
“We can’t walk it every single day, so we really depend on people to tell us what’s out there. And the trail users themselves have been good about just picking up,” she said. “… People take ownership of the trail and they’ve been doing a lot.”
So far this year, there’s been quite a bit of traffic on the trail, with the number of users especially high in March and April, which are typically not busy months for the trail.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdown, people turned to the trails, Fulsher said, as it allowed people to enjoy being outside and “doing something in a safe manner” along the trail.
Fulsher emphasized she’s been glad to see people adopting the trail and helping out with maintenance.
“Every spring after the snow goes, we go out on the trail and make a list of things that need to be done,” she said. “So every year, I have a whole list of things and divy it up as to who’s going to do it.”
General maintenance of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail includes cutting and sweeping. People can also volunteer to adopt a mile of trail to help out with maintenance, Fulsher said.
Looking ahead, the IOHRA plans to repair five erosion spots just west of the Welcome Center.
So far, approximately $200,000 has been raised by the board, the city, Chocolay Township and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Bids for that project were due Tuesday.
Though the pandemic has delayed some projects, by the end of the summer, those erosion spots will be fixed, she said.
To learn more about the trail and how to get involved, visit ironoreheritage.com.
Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.