Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Lake Michigan shore to be desigated 'National Recreation Trail' on June 4

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Residents of Northwest Indiana know that Lake Michigan is a welcoming spot for paddlers and non-motorized watercraft, as the many beaches along the shoreline offer easy access to “water trails” throughout the region.

And on June 4—National Trails Day—the first 75 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline will officially be designated a National Recreation Trail (NRT), the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association and the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association said in a joint statement released on Monday.

The event will feature a Sea Kayak Lake paddle beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Marquette Park in Gary and ending four miles east of there at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.

A second paddling option, intended for recreational kayakers as well as canoeists, will begin on the Little Calumet River at the Miller Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.

Both trips will simultaneously travel to the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.

Then, at 1:30 p.m., there will be a dedication ceremony highlighting the public, private, and non-profit organizations which supported the trail and an unveiling of the latest South Shore Poster, sponsored by NIPSCO, depicting the Lake Michigan Water Trail. Afterwards, paddlers will return to the launch public access sites.

“The Lake Michigan Water Trail is a great example of collaboration between industries, local and federal government, non-profit agencies and public advocacy groups,” Porter County Parks and Recreation Superintendent Walter Lenckos said. “The result is a trail that all our residents can be proud of and that all of our visitors can enjoy.”

The Lake Michigan Water Trail is easily accessible to the more than 6 million people who live in the five counties adjacent to the trail, and the more than 9 million people in the region, said Dan Plath, the Indiana representative for the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association and president of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association.

Plath added that Chicago and the Indiana Dunes attract tourists from around the world, ensuring that the trail is enjoyed by people from beyond the immediate region. “The environmentally friendly and healthy use of human powered watercraft allows paddlers to explore the lakeshore in a most intimate way,” he said. “Unsurpassed views of Chicago’s world class skyline and lakefront parks reward paddlers along Chicago’s entire lakefront.”

The Lake Michigan Water Trail Association was created to develop and expand the trail by running annual events and by partnering with public and private access site owners in the coordination of trail planning, safety and management. Large active sea kayaking clubs in states surrounding the lake provide a local base of advocates and users. Another organization, the Lake Michigan Water Trail Coalition, brings additional state and local resources to the implementation of this trail through planning and land acquisition.

“We are dedicating this stretch, the first 75 miles of a trail that will be 1600 miles long and will attract paddlers from around the world to paddle the shores of Lake Michigan,” Plath said. “It is exciting for us to help spearhead this effort. Within a few years this trail will be the longest continuous water trail in the world.”

As a prelude and kickoff to the National Trails Day celebration, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, David Hayes will announce Secretary Salazar’s designation of 41 trails added to the National Recreation Trails System at a press conference be held in Chicago on June 2.

Posted 5/24/2011




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