In August of 2010, seven municipalities along the proposed Iron ORe Heritage Trail passed a new millage for 2/10th for six years to help the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority (IOHRA) “build, manage and maintain the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. The trail is a 47-mile linear route stretching across the Marquette Iron Range from Chocolay Township in the eastern part to Republic township in the near western portion of Marquette County. Since that time, the IOHRA board, the one-person staff, the many volunteers, plus the State of Michigan have worked to make connections for people in our County to each other and to special places associated with our 160+ year iron mining heritage.
The 47-mile trail is now in the public hands and is forever secure for the public’s use. The entire 47 miles are available for walkers and those pedaling fat tire bikes; 35 miles are available for those on hybrid and road bikes, 15 miles are available for inline skaters and boarders, 15 miles (with six more to come shortly) are opened up to ORV’s (through State ORV route program) and 15 miles are available for equestrians.
Fishing piers, overlooks, bridges, and ledgeways have been built to keep the trail complete. Forty-seven unique Range Stories have been told, museums have been connected, interpretive artwork has been installed, trail events have blossomed, small businesses have opened while other local businesses have profited from grant dollars coming into this area, residents have discovered new spaces and places, and kids have a safe place to get on their bikes.
The IOHRA board continues to look for ways to improve the trail through continued story telling, more trail connections (to Schwemwood Park, Lions Field in Chocolay, Cliffs Shaft, single track trails, etc), maintenance of existing trails, trail surfacing upgrades, artwork, interpretation, and providing a climate for local businesses to thrive.
So our Board has decided to ask for a renewal of this millage on August 2, 2016, which would run from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2022.
It is up to the voters in these seven communities if they will continue to support the project.