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Iron County Land Purchase Helps Secure Future of MECCA Trails

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Katie Thoresen/WXPR
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As winter winds down, MECCA Trails in Mercer is happy for the solid season it had.

Now, a recent land purchase is making the trail system volunteers even happier looking towards the future.

Skiing or snowshoeing through the 13 miles of trails at MECCA Trails will take through land owned by the state, Iron County and Town of Mercer.

For a long a time a key connection in the trail system went through a 40-acre parcel of privately owned land.

The owner was always happy to let MECCA have their trail, but when the land went up for sale a couple years ago, MECCA Trails President Mike Shouldice says they got a bit nervous.

“We got concerned that the new property owner whoever that might be would not want to see trails on their property and we might lose our access to a critical portion of our trail system,” said Shouldice.

MECCA Trails worked with Iron County to secure grants to buy the land.

The county was able to get a Knowles Nelson Stewardship Fund grant to about half of the $20,000 purchase.

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Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR
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“It was contiguous with Iron County forest property, so they were happy to add it to their forest inventory because part of our trails were already on their property,” said Shouldice.

MECCA Trails was able to secure a $10,000 grant from the Gogebic Range Health Foundation for the rest.

“In the Iron County, Wisconsin and Gogebic County, Michigan area over the last five years, grants and collaborations, I’ll guess three quarters of a million dollars they’ve put into different non-profits organizations focused on community health and making the area more attractive for residents and visitors,” said Shouldice.

With that section of land now county property, it helps secure the trail system in the long-term.

“It’s a big relief. It’s a big feather in our cap that we were able to do this,” said Shouldice.

You can learn more about the MECCA Trails on its website.

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