News from the Blueway
Community Planning>St. Clair River Blueway
St. Clair River Blueway Vision Project
The St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) and the St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Commission (PARC) are teaming up to develop the St. Clair River Blueway Vision Project, which will result in a comprehensive Blueway system along the St. Clair River corridor, from Anchor Bay to the northern border of the county along Lake Huron. A Blueway is the river version of a greenway or bike trail. It offers another opportunity for St. Clair County residents and tourists to enjoy outdoor recreation. The project will seek to inventory and enhance coastal access points, bolster the protection of sensitive environments along the corridor and responsibly promote recreational opportunities along the entire Blueway. One outcome of the project will be an interactive web experience where users can plan out paddling routes and day trips and link to other attractions in our communities. There will also be a mobile application to allow smart phone users that are on the Blueway to pull information and maps, utilize GPS technology, and instantly upload route data or photos from their trip.
The project will rely on crowdsourced community asset mapping to ensure all natural and cultural resources are highlighted and promoted along the Blueway corridor, which includes the Belle, Black, and Pine Rivers. Beginning this summer, interested stakeholders will be able to log on to a special website where they will have the unique opportunity to provide input on all of the community assets along the Blueway, including feature descriptions, trip reports, and photos. All of these community assets will be layered into a Google Maps interface on the Blueway website.
The Blueway Project is being funded by a $40,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Coastal Management Program. Additional funding will come in the form of a local match, including $20,000 from PARC and another $27,500 in in-kind services from the MPC and the Land Information Access Association (LIAA), a nonprofit organization based in Traverse City that will assist with the development of the web-based and mobile applications.
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PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT
The purpose of this project is to develop a comprehensive Blueway system along the St. Clair River corridor to inventory and enhance coastal access points, bolster the protection of sensitive environments along the corridor and responsibly promote recreational opportunities along the entire Blueway. The Blueway system will highlight paddling trails and provide new opportunities for public outreach and resource protection. Moreover, the proposed project will establish direct and indirect connections to ongoing tourism efforts, as well as local, state and regional parks and recreation amenities. The project will have direct positive impacts on local economic development efforts by highlighting the Blueway as a destination place and promoting the high quality of life that exists in St. Clair County.
As mentioned above, the proposed St. Clair River Blueway Vision Project will have direct economic benefits. Recreational boating – both motorized and non-motorized – is extremely popular on the Great Lakes, and in Southeast Michigan in particular. Non-motorized boating is a growing sector of boating enthusiasts, which can translate into economic benefits for communities that provide access to water resources along the Blueway. Water recreation in Michigan is a strong draw for bringing people from other areas into the region.
Water trail activities can support the conservation of the aquatic and coastal ecosystems. The proposed Blueway Vision Project will incorporate a full range of educational and informational focus points covering natural resources, wildlife habitats, special environmental areas, specific angling locations, and links for additional access to information. For example, on the interactive Blueway website, users will be able to click on an area such as the St. Clair Flats on Harsens Island and get immediate information and links on vegetation, paddling routes and wildlife. They will also have immediate access to photos of the area they are looking at. This type of functionality has immense and immediate educational benefits. Users will be able to go onto the website to plan out a canoeing route and get information on various natural resources that they will encounter on their trip. This type of information leads to enhanced enjoyment of the Blueway, which in turn creates added incentives in trail users to keep the resource clean.
The recreational amenities in St. Clair County are key contributors to the high quality of life in the area. The proposed St. Clair River Blueway Vision Project will enhance recreational opportunities in the region, providing avenues for both active and passive recreation. These opportunities will be further enhanced through the addition of educational outreach pertaining to natural resources and sensitive environments within the Blueway. This added educational component will provide meaningful Blueway experiences for residents and visitors alike.
The proposed St. Clair River Blueway Vision Project also has the potential to connect with the Detroit Heritage River Water Trail that runs along the Detroit River, from Lake Erie to Lake St. Clair in Southeast Michigan. The Detroit Heritage River Water Trail was a regional Blueways project led by the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC) and supported with funding form the Coastal Zone Management Program. The Detroit project is serving as one of the models for the proposed St. Clair River Blueway Vision Project.
Successful implementation and completion of the proposed project will essentially create a continuous system of Blueways from Lake Erie at the southern border of Michigan, north along the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair River up to Lake Huron. A short distance up the Lake Huron coast, the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail extends 103 miles along the coastlines of Huron and Tuscola Counties. This type of connectivity will have enormous environmental, recreational and economic benefits to local communities, the larger region and the state of Michigan as a whole.
This page last updated on 5/20/2010.
St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission
200 Grand River, Suite 202 | Port Huron, MI | 48060 | 810.989.6950