The Michigan Natural Resources Commission today approved the acquisition of 142.37 acres of inactive railroad near Republic in Marquette County, which will be used to connect the Republic/Champion Grade Trail near Republic to the Ishpeming to Humboldt Trail.
The trail will be a part of the Iron Ore Heritage Area, a concept that the Marquette-based Lake Superior Partnership and the Noquemanon Trail Network are working to promote. The trail system envisioned would be used year-round by walkers, runners, hikers, nature enthusiasts, equestrians, bicyclists, cross country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers.
The commission approved the $109,500 purchase from the Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad Company in Ishpeming. The property is known as the "North Lake Branch Extension," and was purchased with Snowmobile Trail Grant Program funds.
"The acquisition and development of this corridor will help solidify the western end of a proposed trail extending from Republic to Marquette," said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. "This action will help us realize the vision the commission and department have for a trail that will be the hub of routes connecting communities and sites within Marquette County's iron mining history."
The property currently is railbanked under the Federal Transportation Railbanking Authority. The acquisition will protect the integrity of the corridor for future railroad use while providing interim recreational trail use.
"The DNR is excited to be a part of this effort, which will result in a trail system that will draw a variety of users to the great outdoors," Humphries said. "Outdoor recreation is key to the quality of life in this region, as evidence by recent national honors Marquette has received as a highly livable community."
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.