2017-02-23 / News

Plans for M-134 Scenic Byway Promotion Are Taking Shape

A plan outlining goals, along with specific projects and potential funding sources, for the development of the North Huron Scenic Byway along M-134 was approved by an advisory committee working to develop the byway Wednesday, February 1.

M-134 received the Pure Michigan byway designation more than a year ago, in October 2015. Since then, the advisory committee has worked to assemble the Corridor Management Plan. The plan provides a blueprint for future community and economic growth in the area, centered on a bywaybased marketing and development strategy.

The North Huron Scenic byway begins at the junction of M-134 and I-75 and follows M-134 all the way across the Drummond Island ferry route to the intersection with South Shore/South Townline Road. The route traverses the Hessel, Cedarville, DeTour Village, and Drummond Island communities, and showcases stunning natural vistas. Travelers can enjoy hundreds of miles of trails to hike or ride on their bicycles, ATVs, and ORVs. The North Huron Water Trail and North Huron Birding Trail both have numerous stops along or very near the byway.

“The response to the byway designation was overwhelmingly positive,” said advisory committee co-chair Scott Danforth.

Clark Township Supervisor Gary Reid said the opportunity to to coordinate efforts, from branding to grant funding, has already strengthened the relationship between the communities along M- 134.

“Although the federal funding for these programs has waned in recent years, the byway program provides a framework for communities to come together and showcase their best assets,” said Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Plan- ning and Development CEO Jeff Hagan.

Several states with robust byway programs have completed economic impact studies. New Mexico’s byways were shown to have a $267 million impact, and Colorado’s byways added nearly $800 million annually to their economy between 2009 and 2014.

One commenter in the process raised concerns about increased regulation and cost to the taxpayers, however, the committee and the plan can only make recommendations, and projects included in the plan rely largely on grants and private investment.

The volunteer byway advisory committee meets monthly to discuss developments and strategies for promotion of the byway and its attractions. The meeting is attended by members from interested businesses, attractions, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Transportation, local government, and others. The Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Development Commission (EUPRPDC) provides administrative support to the committee. Anyone interested in marketing their business or attraction can join the North Huron Scenic Byway group by contacting Rebecca Bolen at the EUPRPDC office at (906) 635-1581 or e-mail rbolen@eup-planning.org.

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