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Water Trail Plan Selected to Receive Environmental Stewardship Award

Updated: May 11, 2021

Plan for the Middle Grand River Recognized for Water Protection Efforts

LANSING, Mich. – The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (Tri-County), in partnership with the Middle Grand River Organization of Watersheds (MGROW), is proud to announce the Middle Grand River Water Trail Development Plan has been selected to receive the 2020 Environmental Stewardship Award for Water Protection. Presented by the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council each year, the award recognizes local efforts that protect our regional communities and public health by demonstrating environmental advocacy and stewardship.

“We are thrilled this plan has been recognized for its strategic approach to dually protecting one of our region’s greatest natural assets while also enhancing the safety, accessibility, and economic and recreational opportunities of the Middle Grand River,” said Jim Snell, executive director of Tri-County. “This project would not have been possible without MGROW’s partnership and the countless communities who offered feedback and support throughout the development of the plan.”

The plan, which led to the Middle Grand River Water Trail’s state designation in December of 2018, provides a framework for a regionally coordinated approach to manage the 87 miles of the Grand River that extend throughout Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties, known as the Middle Grand River. Developed through site assessments, stakeholder interviews, and community input, the project outlines recommendations and best practices for improving access points and wayfinding, identifying recreational opportunities, addressing safety and ecological challenges, and leveraging economic development strategies along the water trail. Both the plan and the state designation make the region more competitive to receive state recreation funding for implementable projects that improve the safety and accessibility for water trail users.

“Completing this plan is only the beginning of ongoing collaboration between the various communities along the river,” said Fred Cowles, president of MGROW. “Each community recognizes the benefits to citizen health and local economies afforded by the recreational opportunities provided by our greatest natural resource: the Grand River. The river has been incredibly important throughout the history of mid-Michigan, from the retreat of the glaciers to present day.”

Read the complete Middle Grand River Water Trail Development Plan and learn more about Tri-County’s water trail projects and planning activities at Since the plan’s finalization, both MGROW and Tri-County have been consulting with the National Park Service to begin work on a nationally designated Grand River Water Trail, including all sections of the Grand River from the headwaters to Lake Michigan. Keep up with their progress and learn more about the plan’s role in future development efforts at


Ashling Jackson

Director of Marketing & Community Outreach


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The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission is a public planning agency established in 1956, serving Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties in Mid-Michigan. Tri-County makes our region a more prosperous community by planning for a strong economy, reliable transportation, and sustainable infrastructure and natural resources. We connect local organizations and governments to funding, technical assistance, data resources, and opportunities to discuss trends and challenges affecting the Greater Lansing area. Learn more at

MGROW is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 2011 as an umbrella group serving the people and organizations within the Middle Grand River watershed. Its mission is to protect and preserve the history and the natural resources of the Middle Grand River watershed by promoting education, conservation, restoration, and wise use of watershed resources. Learn more at

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