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Bridge eyed at Rapid River Falls

December 8, 2009
By Dionna Harris

ESCANABA - Replacing a former swing bridge across the Rapid River Falls is being discussed by the Delta County Board of Commissioners and U.S. Forest Service.

Tom Schmidt of the U.S. Forest Service is working with Commissioners Tom Elegeert and Les Ruohomaki, along with interim County Administrator Nora Viau and Rory Mattson of the Delta Conservation District.

Elegeert noted at one time a swing bridge had been in use at the Rapid River Falls Park allowing visitors to safely cross the shallow, yet swift, flowing river.

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A concrete abutment can be seen on the south shore of the Rapid River Falls Park, along with the top of a similar abutment holding two steel poles. The structure once supported a swing bridge. Efforts are underway to reintroduce the swing bridge to connect the park with the U.S. Forest Service Cross Country Ski Trail.

"One of the reasons for proposing the return of the swing bridge is to provide a conduit between county-owned land and federal land," said Elegeert.

Under Elegeert's suggestion for replacing the swing bridge, Rapid River Falls Park could serve as the trail head for the federally-maintained cross country ski trail which is at the south side of the river.

Elegeert said two concrete abutments, which are all that remain of the old swing bridge, appear to be in good condition.

"The question is would the U.S. Forest Service allow access to the cross country ski trail from a different point of access," asked Elegeert.

Another proposal was the trail to be used during non-winter months by bicyclists.

"We would have to examine the trail to determine if it would be suitable for bicycles as there may be wetland issues to be addressed," said Schmidt.

Another non-winter use for the trail could be for horseback riders. Viau noted there are not many trails available for equestrian uses.

"The county could develop an area people could park and untrailer their horses if there was a non-motorized trail system established," said Viau. "Currently there are no areas locally for equestrian use, which would be a big draw in tourism to the local area."

Elegeert added the Rapid River Falls Park area, in his opinion, could be brought up to a higher level of usage with the construction of a pavilion. It could be used for weddings and other outdoor events.

Other topics of discussion included the county and forest service working more closely on economic development, a proposed land swap between the county and Forest Service concerning Little Fish Dam Park, the creation of two separate U.S. Forest Service Regional Units in Central and Eastern Upper Michigan, and a project along Nahma Road.



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