DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Plans are moving forward for a hiking and biking trail from Belle Isle park in Detroit to Ironwood on the Wisconsin boundary in the western Upper Peninsula, and one man is getting ready to walk the route even though it's not anywhere near completion.
Officials with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources plan to meet with trail organizations and community planners next month about details. They're looking for nonprofits and private groups to maintain stretches of the trail, and seeking funding ideas and a name for the 924-mile route.
"It's all part of the complexity of sorting this out," Ron Olson, chief of the DNR's parks and recreation division, told the Detroit Free Press.
The project would require more than 200 miles of new trails. It could take three years before plans are finalized for the last stretches, Olson said.
Meanwhile, on April 26, 45-year-old Chris Hillier of Taylor plans to start a months-long journey from Belle Isle along the proposed trail. The route, as planned, will wind through Michigan's urban landscapes, go along its waterways and pass through secluded woods.
"You guys figure out the political lines," said Hillier, who plans to use roadways and public rights of ways to fill in gaps in the trail during his hike. "I'm going to get my boots on."
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the proposal for the trail in November, saying he wanted Michigan to become the Trail State. The governor directed the Michigan DNR to work with private and nonprofit partners to make the full trail route a reality.
"It excites the imagination," said Nancy Krupiarz, executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance, an umbrella organization that advocates for the state's more than 3,000 miles of trails. "I think it's like a bucket list type of thing.
"You see it, you want to conquer it."
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