The Huron River is one of the area’s greatest natural resources. A new study shows it also provides an economic boon to the region. Find out how and what is still to come as WEMU’s David Fair talks with the Deputy Director of the Huron River Watershed Council, Elizabeth Riggs, on this week’s edition of “Issues of the Environment.”
· The Huron River Water Trail (HRWT) was designated as the country's 18th National Water Trail in 2015 (and 2nd in Michigan). In October 2017, the Huron River Watershed Council published a report that quantifies the economic value of the Huron River Watershed Trail (part of the Border-to-Border trail) and the Huron River. Enhancing the economic conditions of “trail towns” along the river is a key aspect of the RiverUp! initiative which has supported the creation of the trail and invested millions in keeping the river clean and healthy for recreation and wildlife.
· The study finds $53 million in economic value attributable to the river and trail. “The Huron River supports recreation, tourism, and business activities that greatly support the local economy. The majority of this spending is driven by outdoor activity around or near the water.”
· The “ecosystem value” is estimated to be $150 million, which includes protection against erosion and flooding, habitat for diverse birds, fish, and mammals, and cultural and aesthetic benefits that come from people’s interactions with nature.
· Other new amenities of the HRWT include lockers for kayaks and canoes so that paddlers can explore towns along the river, and a riverfront mural in Frog Island Park in Ypsilanti. Both of these projects were designed and created by locals. Currently, the Huron River Watershed Council is working with REI as a partner to establish more.
· The HRWT is part of the developing Border-to-Border trail, and Coy Vaughn with Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation will highlight the land effort on “Issues of the Environment” next week.
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