Supporting happy trails in Michigan’s Calhoun County

Recreational, non-motorized stretch of trailway will promote active living

For Jesse Jacox, Michigan’s Kalamazoo River is more than a recreational backdrop – it’s the setting for a lifetime of memories.

“My first memory of the river was being four or five years old, going to family picnics at Historic Bridge Park,” says Jacox, a self-employed home remodeler and contractor who lives in Marshall, Michigan. “I picked crawdads (crayfish) out of the river; I’ve skipped school on it; I’ve walked its banks in all seasons; I’ve canoed it; I’ve raced on it. I proposed to my wife on that river.

“My passion, obviously, is the river.”

In the near future, the parkland surrounding the Kalamazoo River will enthrall even more Calhoun County residents. The Calhoun County Trailway Alliance recently held a groundbreaking ceremony at Historic Bridge Park for a six-mile stretch of trailway that will run along the edge of the 300-acre preserve.

Construction on the $1.2-million project is expected to be complete by September. Enbridge contributed to Calhoun County Trailway Alliance fundraising efforts with a pair of donations.

“The community-building and community-enhancing nature of this project is clear. It provides a way for residents and visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, and to connect with one another in a way that promotes active living,” says John Sobojinski, Project Director for Enbridge’s Kalamazoo River Remediation.

Designed for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, the stretch of non-motorized trailway will eventually be a pivotal piece of the Great Lake-to-Lake Trail system connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

“It’s going to be a blessing to the community,” says Jacox, who’s a member of the Emmett Township Board of Trustees and the Calhoun County Parks Board. “What has been achieved here is going to be realized for decades to come.”

Since the Marshall incident in July 2010, Enbridge has been, and remains, fully committed to restoring the area, including Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, as close as possible to its pre-existing condition.

The Kalamazoo River was reopened for recreational use in the summer of 2012. Enbridge has developed or enhanced five access sites on the river since 2010, and conveyed three of those sites – Saylor’s Landing, Angler’s Bend, and Paddler’s Grove – to the Calhoun Conservation District in October 2013.

“Believe me, I’m on it all the time, and I think the river is cleaner than it was before,” says Jacox. “Enbridge has done a supreme effort to make this right. I think they’ve done a remarkable job.”