The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission, WDNR, WCMP, and the National Park Service have completed development of the 450-mile Lake Michigan Water Trail inventory that covers the diverse Lake Michigan shoreline in Wisconsin from the Michigan border in Marinette to the Illinois border south of Kenosha. The final report and maps are available on the Bay-Lake RPC and WDNR websites.
The development of a Lake Michigan Water Trail is primarily oriented around increasing and improving public access to the shoreline and waters of Lake Michigan. This collaborative process surveyed over 360 sites in 11 Wisconsin counties for potential nonmotorized water access that could be branded as the Lake Michigan Water Trail.
During the planning process, a series of stakeholder and public meetings were held to review the sites. Both amenity and distance criteria were used to identify zones for improved access. From this analysis, 20 "Enhancement Zones" were identified for site improvements or a public access point. With nearly 2 million residents, over one-third of Wisconsin's population, living within a 30-minute drive to the Lake Michigan shoreline, this trail will have positive impacts for public recreation, public health, environmental stewardship, and economic development.
Phase 2 of the Wisconsin Lake Michigan Water Trail project, the Implementation/Marketing Phase, will get underway in spring 2012. Efforts will focus on developing a branding strategy that local communities and private affiliates can embrace as a Lake Michigan Water Trail Network, developing a website and guides, and gaining National Recreation Trail recognition.
You may contact Angela Pierce at the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission if you have any questions about the Lake Michigan Water Trail Plan.