Monday, May 18, 2009

Kalamazoo River Watershed Heritage Water Trail Opens First Trail Segment

Allegan County Parks and the Allegan Conservation District, along with several other partners, are pleased to announce the grand opening of the first segment of the Kalamazoo River Watershed Heritage Water Trail. An official opening ceremony will take place at 9:00am on May 30, 2009 at the City of Douglas Park, which is located in downtown Douglas. Speakers for the event will be Dr. Dave Lemberg, Associate Department Chair, Department of Geography, Western Michigan University; Mr. Jeff Spoelstra, Executive Director, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council; and Kevin Ricco, Director, Allegan County Parks, Tourism & Economic Development.

For the past two years this partnership group, which also includes the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Potawatomi RC & D, Calhoun Conservation District, Michigan State University Extension, Kalamazoo County and Calhoun County, has been working on turning the entire Kalamazoo River watershed into a State of Michigan designated Heritage Water Trail. Dr. Dave Lemberg from Western Michigan University, appointed by the Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries as the heritage water trail coordinator for the State of Michigan, has been working with us to help move this incredible project forward.

This first completed segment, which will run from New Richmond in Allegan County to Saugatuck, will include 18 historically and/or ecologically significant sites, including information on the New Richmond Bridge, lumbering, the fruit industry and Singapore, just to name a few. Each site will be represented by individual signs posted along the river near their general location. There will also be more detailed information about each site, along with photos and detailed river maps, on line at

"The Kalamazoo River and its tributaries represent a significant part of our region's heritage", states Kevin Ricco, Director of Parks and Tourism for Allegan County. "This project will not only educate visitors about this heritage but will also serve as an economic driver by bringing more visitors to the area to experience this wonderful natural resource."

When complete, the project will include water trail maps and guidebooks that will cover the entire Kalamazoo River main stream and its major tributaries.
There will also be signs posted along the river pinpointing the heritage sites that will be included in the guidebooks. In Allegan County, the Heritage Water Trail will include the Kalamazoo River main stream from Plainwell to Saugatuck, as well as the Gun River and the Rabbit River. This project will continue to enhance the tremendous natural resource that is the Kalamazoo River Watershed and will help to develop tourism and tourism-related businesses along the river.

This project also represents a great opportunity for businesses and organizations that have an interest in the Kalamazoo River watershed to advertise in a new and exciting way. Each site included in the Kalamazoo River Watershed Heritage Water Trail project is available for site sponsorship. Site sponsorships are available at a cost of $500 for a three year sponsorship. A sponsorship will include advertising space on the selected site sign as well as in the completed guidebooks. At this time we are encouraging any business or organization interested in sponsoring one or more sites on the Heritage Water Trail to contact Jeff Spoelstra, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, at 269-978-4606.

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