Project Connect aims to create more walk, bike, and ski friendly communities in the Ironwood and surrounding areas
People along the Wisconsin and Michigan border in Iron and Gogebic Counties are laying out an ambitious goal.
They envision a community where residents can ski, hike, or bike from their front porch, from city to city, and into the wilds.
Hiking, biking, skiing, ATVing, you name it, the Ironwood area more than likely has a trail for it.
But the latest initiative from the Gogebic Range Health Foundation and Anderson Bluffs and River Trails Foundation goes beyond creating trail for people to get outside.
It’s about connecting communities and making them healthier.
“In between the communities and then between neighborhoods and amenities like grocery stores and schools and work, farmer’s markets, so that it would make it easier for people to choose to walk or bike or ski if they wanted to,” said Andrea Bergman, Executive Director of the Gogebic Range Health Foundation.
Right now, Project Connect has laid out 11 trailheads and connector trails they believe would go a long way towards achieving this goal.
For example, one would connect the Historic Montreal Ski Trails to the end of the Iron Bell Trail in Hurley. Another would link Miner Memorial Heritage Park to Norrie Park.
Bergman says some of the projects are close to breaking ground while others are just in the conceptual phase.
She recognizes it’s an ambitious and long-term goal to see this entire project through, but it’s one she says is worth it build a healthier community.
“We’ve gotten lots of questions, ‘Why trails? Why trails?” and it’s really about enhancing the health of residents and create communities that have opportunities for people to choose to walk and bike,” said Bergman. “People are generally more likely to choose that, which in and of itself is a way for people to improve their physical health, mental health, and overall, we see communities that have better health outcomes.”