Blue Water visitors bureau commits $200K to help close gaps in the Bridge to Bay Trail

What’s happening: The Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has granted $200,000 to the Bridge to Bay Trail project, the first in what the Visitors Bureau promises to be a multi-year financial commitment.

It was 2017 when a coalition of local stakeholders reinvigorated the Bridge to Bay Trail project, a 54-mile trail that should one day run uninterrupted from Algonac to Lakeport. The project itself actually began in the 1990s, but would eventually run out of steam before renewed interest in the trail system saw significant investment once more. Since then, it’s largely been two groups that have funded most of the work: the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

Now, in 2022, the Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has officially entered the chat.

Making an impact: “I can’t overstate how significant this financial investment is,” says Sheri Faust, Chair of the Regional Trails Planning Committee. “Since we began this process back in 2017 our capacity and management needs have been primarily funded by our Community Foundation along with the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.”

[Read A conduit to tourism and downtown development: The Bridge to Bay Trail receives major funding push” on The Keel.]

Tourism dollars: Much has been made about a completed 54-mile coastal trail and its potential to draw tourists — and their tourism dollars — to the Blue Water Area. So it makes sense that the Blue Water Area CVB is willing to invest so heavily in such a transformational project. The money invested will help with the planning, organizing, coordinating, and early-stage feasibility planning needed to close gaps along the 54-mile trail.

What they’re saying: “The Bridge to Bay Trail system will have a significant impact on tourism to this region and is projected to cost more than $10 million to complete,” says Marci Fogal, president of the Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our Board recognized the fact that this work over the next several years will take administration, coordination, logistics and early-stage feasibility and engineering. So we wanted to join the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation and our own Community Foundation in funding that work.”