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Future development of the water trail is aimed at linking 11 Wisconsin counties along the Lake Michigan shoreline and is primarily oriented around increasing and improving public access to the shoreline and water.
“With Wisconsin being home to more than 1.8 million kayakers and anglers, this water trail designation will allow for increased funding of access and development of launch sites along the Lake Michigan Shoreline,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “The Wisconsin segment of the trail ultimately would connect with similar trails being developed by the Lake Michigan states of Indiana, Illinois and, Michigan.”
This project was a collaboration between the DNR, National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, Wisconsin Costal Management Program and Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission.
The trail will eventually run from the Wisconsin-Illinois border north to the tip of the Door County Peninsula and then south along the Green Bay shoreline to the city of Green Bay into seven segments. A water trail consists of a series of access points that offer public services like parking, picnic areas, restrooms, emergency services and camping. Each segment was inventoried for existing features complementing a water trail. This collaborative process identified more than 360 sites in 11 Wisconsin counties for potential nonmotorized water access to Lake Michigan.
The trail is expected to boost local economies with expenditures from anglers and kayakers at outfitters, hotels, gas stations and restaurants. Recent estimates value spending produced by the entire outdoor recreation industry at $7.5 billion in Wisconsin. In a recent Department of Tourism study, travelers rated Wisconsin’s natural resources as one of our top strengths as a tourism draw. Excellent fishing and state park facilities, beautiful scenery and fall color, are key motivators for travel to Wisconsin
With nearly 2 million residents living within a 30-minute drive to the Lake Michigan shoreline – more than one-third of Wisconsin’s population -- this trail will have positive impacts for public recreation, public health, environmental stewardship, and economic development.
Support for the project has come from federal, state, industry and local stakeholder groups; and the Lake Michigan Water Trail was selected as one the top 100 national state projects as part of the Presidents Obama’s Americas Great Outdoors program that encourages increasing outdoor recreation opportunities close to home.
“The water trail offers exciting way for more people to get outside and connect with nature,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We plan to be adding more trails in the future.”
Another water trail is planned along the Wisconsin shores of Lake Superior as part of a plan to establish a multi-state Lake Superior Water Trail. Several other water trails have been developed along different bodies of water. These include the Milwaukee Urban Water Trail, Menominee River Trail, the Capital Water Trails, the Rhinelander Whitewater Trail, the Yahara Waterways Trail, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a trail along the Kickapoo River, the Jefferson County Waterways, and other marked trails at state parks and state forests.
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