For Immediate Release: August 13, 2018
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Awards Funding for Michigan Trails to Support the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail
Lansing, MI — The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance recently received a $255,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to help turn the vision of a 315-mile long destination trail into reality. Michigan Trails will use the funds to continue working with the managers of 28 trails along the South Haven to Port Huron route to provide a unique recreational experience that increases fitness opportunities for our citizens while driving tourism to the region and state.
Bob Wilson, Executive Director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, applauded the vision and foresight of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and indicated that this grant reflects the potential for the new trail to be open by late summer of next year. “From the very inception of this work of ours to help build this trail, the response from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has been nothing but exceptional,” exclaimed Wilson. “We strongly believe creating this destination trail will enhance the opportunities and experiences for everyone living and working along this beautiful and vibrant corridor.”
The grant will specifically focus on efforts that are already underway. Michigan Trails has hosted two statewide trail summits with a third planned for this fall in Pontiac. Convening trail managers from Van Buren to St. Clair County, signage, maintenance, gap-building and history telling have been important matters of discussion with a voluntary memorandum of understanding being reviewed by trail managers from the individual trails.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation recognized the significance of the trail and its potential to connect communities with diverse and varied interests. “This trail is well aligned with our focus on livable communities, making parks and trails more accessible and connecting communities throughout the region,” explained J.J. Tighe, Director of the Park & Trails Initiative at the Foundation. “This trail will build on the existing momentum; supporting existing trails, build new trails where gaps exist and support the exploration of a management structure that will represent the interests of people along the trail. We are excited to support the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance and their vision of connecting the rich and diverse communities from South Haven to Port Huron.”
The Great Lake-to-Lake Trails Route #1 is a 315-mile long trail that was originally the vision of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance in 2007. The trail has been built largely by connecting and growing existing trails and has had the fortunate financial support of the state, local communities and key philanthropists like Mike Levine of Pinckney. The trail is expected to open in the late summer of 2019 and will officially be opened with a lake to lake bike ride in September of 2019.
The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is the statewide voice for non-motorized trail users, helping people build, connect and promote trails for a healthier and more prosperous Michigan. For more information, visit us at www.michigantrails.org or find us on Facebook.
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. The Foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit www.ralphcwilsonjrfoundation.org.