SNOW COVERED

The first snow of the season covers phase I of the Iosco Exploration Trail on Mill Street on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

OSCODA – The Iosco Exploration Trail (IET) committee met on in December to discuss updates to phases III and IV of the trail. 

As previously reported, the IET is a section of the Iron Belle Trail (IBT) which, once complete, is expected to run from Belle Isle in Detroit to Iron River in the Upper Peninsula. The board’s last meeting was held in October, but they picked things back up in December and provided a number of updates. 

The first of these referred to phase III. As reported, phase III is expected to include two extensions running from Oscoda High School  to Foote Village/ Rea Road  and from Foote Village to Old Orchard Park (OOP). 

“We’ve had a lot of stuff going on this last month on phase III and we just recently received some information on phase IV,” said IET Chairman Fred Lewis. 

Lewis looked to United States Forest Service (USFS) Natural Resources Specialist Molly Pozek for a summary and update on phase III. She said that she feels that the forest service and the committee are pretty much on the same page except for specifically where the trail will be placed. 

“We’re looking at trying to really hammer out exactly where the trail is going to be and what our specialist can analyze,” said Pozek. 

She added that any information on wildlife analysis or anything the committee would like their specialist to view can be emailed to her. Additionally, a number of organizations are looking for copies of the Geographic Information System(GIS) layer of the trail. 

Lewis said he would look into finding that, but wasn’t sure if The Spicer Group did GIS mapping on the particular site. To wrap up the update on phase III, Lewis connected with ROWE Professional Services and Consumer’s Energy to make sure they had all the documents they needed up to this point. 

As previously reported, the following is a summary of how phase III is expected to be funded. 

• Oscoda Township (OT) applied and received a fiscal year 2022 Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant conditional commitment of $1,074,392, for extension one of phase III through the Iosco County Road Commission, which will be part of the matching funds. 

• OT has made a financial commitment of $100,000 in 2018 and an additional $100,000 in 2020, for a total of $200,000 in matching funds for the project. 

• Iosco County has made a financial commitment of $50,000 for the project in matching funds. 

• The Iosco Bike Trail (IBT) Challenge Grant has committed $110,000 in matching funds while the IBT Foundation has committed $50,000. 

• OT requested through an application that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant fund the project with $300,000, which was awarded to them, according to Lewis at the December meeting.

As previously reported, if everything is funded and the trail is to conclude at OOP, final restoration of the construction is expected in June 2023, with the majority of the work taking place in the 2022 construction season. 

Additionally an update on phase IV was given by Planning Consultant Emily Meyerson from the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments, (NEMCOG) hired by members of the AuSable Township Board of Trustees as a grant writer. Phase IV is expected to run south of the AuSable Township Hall to the southern logical terminus previously reported on. 

“I met with them once and of course we have a big funding gap, so that’s sort of where we are at now. They would like to apply for a TAP grant in February and a Trust Fund grant in April, but we need to fill the funding gap in order to make the application,” said Meyerson. 

She added that she put a proposal together to see what the project was and sent it to Dakota to determine where the remainder of the funds for phase IV would come from. Other than minor discussion about monetary match for phases III and IV, the meeting was wrapped up with minor reports from a number of organizations. 

The next IET meeting is set for Thursday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. on Zoom. For more information on the IET, visit https://www.ioscoexplorationtrail.org/.

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