By Jan Worth-Nelson
About 200 supporters and sponsors of the Flint River Water Coalition braved sub-zero temperatures on the last day of January to attend “The Voice of the River,” an annual celebration to raise funds and highlight progress on Flint River clean-up, environmental education, and recreational access.
Among the news was the recent announcement that the 72-mile-long Flint River Trail is one of the first eight state-designated water trails in Michigan. Overall, the water trails encompass 540 miles of navigable water in the Lower Peninsula—and according to state guidelines are intended primarily for non-motorized use, for paddleboarders and kayakers. Flint’s trail extends from the headwaters in Lapeer County into and through Genesee County.
Rebecca Fedewa, FRWC executive director, said to qualify for the state designation, a water trail has to be accessible to the public, has to be deemed safe, has to include significant signage to help paddlers know where they are, and has to be supported by local clubs and local units of government.
“We have all that and more,” Fedewa said, adding that more access sites are being developed every year.
Specifically, she announced upcoming improvements for the Mott Park Recreation Area, including a paddlers’ landing with safe and easier access to the river. Funding is being sought for a match of $50,000 from Patronicity, a state-sponsored civic crowd-funding platform of the Michigan Department of Economic Development (MEDC). The campaign has been primed by $10,000 from the Hagerman Foundation.
Those honored at the event were:
First Annual S. Olof Karlstrom Impact Award: given to Karlstrom himself, an FRWC board member emeritus, and a founding member of the first FRWC board.
Joe Leonardi Leadership Award – Dr. Bobby Mukkamala and Bob Waun, for their support in the creation of the Kayak Flint livery service.
Dr. Gary Pace Volunteer of the Year Award – Peter McCreedy and Kathy Smith, and the Lapeer river access team, for their work to improve Flint River access in Lapeer.
FRWC Service Awards – departing board members Alex Thibeault and Steve Hester.
Golden Gloves Award – Joshua and Azelle Atwood of Lapeer.
More information is available at flintriver.org.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.