Land Acquired for Millennium Trail (MI)

Pontiac, MI 1/30/03 – The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, announced today the sale of 2.05 miles of abandoned railway to the City of Pontiac. The former rail corridor will be developed as a pedestrian and bike path and is a key link in the regional Southeast Michigan Millennium Trail System. The Pontiac portion of the trail is one of the last pieces left to be acquired in the corridor that links five communities in Oakland County with rural Macomb County.

The acquisition of the 2.05-mile section of the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad parcel preserves one of the critical links between the communities of Sylvan Lake and Auburn Hills in Oakland County, and will add momentum to this citizen-led, community-supported initiative. This portion of trail passes through the city of Pontiac, running parallel to the Clinton River, next to wetlands, industrial and residential areas. The Trust for Public Land acquired the property from Grand Trunk Western Railroad this past year to protect the corridor while public funding was arranged. Through grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan’s GreenWays Initiative, the city was able to purchase the land and will begin developing it into a hiking and biking trail.

“This is a regional investment in a greenway connecting the communities of Southeast Michigan,” said Thomas Woiwode, Director the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan’s Greenway Initiative. “The enthusiasm and support surrounding this network of trails has grown with each additional mile added. We are happy to support this exciting project.”

Pontiac’s section of the trail is one of the last needed to be acquired to connect Oakland and Macomb County with hike-and-bike trails. TPL is assisting with the completion of a corridor that will link Sylvan Lake, Pontiac, Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Rochester and parts of rural Macomb County. All portions of the trail are currently under community ownership, with the exception of two pieces that will soon be acquired by Macomb County. These sections are part of a larger plan to link the Clinton River Trail with the Macomb Orchard Trail and the Stony Creek Metropark/Clinton River Park.

Regional efforts are underway to convert miles of former railroad property into a network of greenways and trails that will connect the seven-county area. The Southeast Michigan Millennium Greenway Trail will provide bicyclists, skaters and hikers a tour of picturesque small towns, suburban open land and an urban mix of industrial plants, skyscrapers and riverfront views as they travel from the outer reaches of the corridor into the urban center of Detroit.

Trust for Public Land Vice President and Midwest Regional Director Cynthia Whiteford sees the regional effort as important for Michigan. “This is another step in developing a regional treasure, the Southeast Michigan Millennium Greenway Trail. By connecting communities to surrounding areas, this trail becomes bigger than the sum of its parts. It will help shape the regional character and provide a nexus for future conservation and recreation opportunities. TPL is proud to have been able to play a role in this effort.”

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 1.4 million acres of land across the nation. In Michigan, TPL has protected over 55,718 acres of land, is an active partner in the Lower Detroit River Ecosystem and has assisted various communities and national forests throughout the state in their conservation efforts.