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      Possible new Recreation Authority seeks to improve Marquette trails

      Marquette City, Marquette Charter Township, and Chocolay Township officials are working together to improve outdoor recreation opportunities and to possibly form a new recreation authority.

      The Marquette area trails are an increasingly popular tourist attraction. Area representatives are collaborating on ways to work together and improve the whole area.

      They're working to improve trails in over 1200 acres of the Marquette area. Representatives have formed an ad hoc committee to study the trail systems and how the three Marquette and Chocolay jurisdictions can work together to improve them. They're goal is maximize tourism with top notch recreational opportunities and improve the overall quality of life in the region.

      "If successful, this will be a way for us to formalize that and to protect a large tract of land for recreational opportunities," said Jason McCarthy Recreational Authority Ad Hoc Committee Chairman.

      Committee members say trail system are the top priority... preserve and improve them to attract more recreational tourists.

      "If they were made better, I would be very impressed because they are some of the top trails I've ever been on in Michigan so far," said NMU Junior Chris Simon.

      "Recreation in the Upper Peninsula has been historically something that people come here for. It is a tourism destination, but now it is becoming more of a recreation destination for hiking, biking, kayaking, and just enjoying the greater outdoors," said Nikki Dewald, Ad Hoc Committee member.

      Long-term plans are still uncertain for the time being. The committee is proposing to form a Recreation Authority based upon their studies in the community in December to the three jurisdictions. A singular entity will be able to pool resources and minimize duplicate efforts between the three areas. The new authority would be able to make millage requests and apply for grants. If it goes through, they could be building new trailheads and connecting new trails in 2014.

      The committee is still speaking with Marquette area residents and is holding another meeting to continue the study this Monday with community leaders. For more information call Jason McCarthy at (906) 228-6220 ext. 105 or Nikki Dewald at (906) 869-4054.