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Feds announce plans to create Lake Michigan water trail

Lake Michigan soon will be home to a new 75 mile shoreline recreational water trail, according to the U.S Department of the Interior.

The Department formally announced the creation of the first leg of the Lake Michigan Water Trail during a press conference on Thursday. It will be dedicated at along the lakefront in Portage, Indiana on Saturday.

Running through three states and accessible to more than 6 million residents in the region, the Chicago to New Buffalo Section is the first part of an ambitious project that aims to create public access points every three to eight miles along the entire lakefront shoreline.  Once completed, the full water trail will include access points in all four states that border the lake, encompassing some 1,600 total miles.

“The Lake Michigan Water Trail’s official designation will make it easier for local residents and visitors alike to find and visit Lake Michigan shorelines,” said U.S Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Thursday. “There’s no better way to take in urban landscapes like the Chicago skyline than from a canoe or a kayak. And as more people have this opportunity to enjoy this wonderful treasure on Chicago’s lakefront, more people will share in our resolve to protect the health of the Great Lakes.”

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore program manager Lynda Lancaster says the route follows ancient trails used by Native Americans and those used by early explorers pushing west.

The Lake Michigan Water Trail is one of 41 new trails to receive the National Recreation Trail designation.  The effort is part of the Obama administration's larger vision to create a network of water trails and public access points along America's Waterways. 

The new land and water trails announced on Thursday will add 650 miles to the National Recreation Trails and span across 17 states.

The announcement comes in advance of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 4, when hundreds of organized activities including hikes, festivals, and canoe trips will take place around the country.


Updated 6/3/11 at 1:43pm

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