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Contact: Mark Weaver, (616) 430-3495
On October 13, North Country National Scenic Trail celebrated the one-year anniversary of their first land acquisition with neighbors, local dignitaries, Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff, and staff and volunteers of the National Park Service and North Country Trail Association in Augusta, Michigan.
Until 2009, the federal government could not permanently acquire property for trail access in the name of the National Park Service, leaving all trail protection responsibilities to our partners. That changed in 2009 when Congress granted "willing seller" authority, permitting federal land acquisition in the name of the Trail. In 2017 funding was secured for North Country Trails first federal land acquisition —a 80 acre parcel of beautiful countryside in Augusta, Michigan.
The group enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon hike followed by a site design workshop led by NPS staff. The sellers of the property, Ron and Grace Hutchinson, were presented with North Country Trail Association's Outstanding Landowner Award for their decades of service to the Trail.
In one short year of ownership, NPS staff have performed a property boundary survey, coordinated compliance actions, established local government support, planted 40 acres of prairie, planned a reroute of the trail, and developed a preliminary trailhead design. Stay tuned for more successes to come.
North Country Trail, the nation's longest national scenic trail, clocks in at 4,600 miles long and traverses seven states from New York to North Dakota. Its presence is cemented via partnerships with federal, state and local public land managers, private landowners, its non-profit partner North Country Trail Association, and a number of affiliate trail organizations. But even with these partnerships, many, many miles of trail remain unprotected.
Recently the National Park Service has secured a second parcel (200 acres) for the trail in northern Wisconsin. It will soon move forward to replicate the successes achieved with the Michigan property. An additional 2500 acres are currently under negotiation with a property owner in northern Michigan.
The variety of land types, ownership, issues, and conditions requires the Trail to be nimble in terms of trail protection alternatives and opportunities. Having the additional option of federal ownership allows the trail to be better positioned to ensure a world-class walking and hiking experience for all.
Last updated: October 24, 2018