RiverUp! strikes again! Another makeover at the river’s edge is nearing completion, this time in Ann Arbor’s Island Park.

The construction crew just wrapped up at the new canoe and kayak access located at river mile 49.4 on the Huron River Water Trail. The new launch and landing replaces the eroded and undersized (and unofficial) landing just upstream near the footbridge that had become the taking out spot for paddlers. Way-finding signage will be installed soon directing river users to the improved access point.

City of Ann Arbor Liveries Manager Cheryl Saam envisioned a better option at the new site. RiverUp! program staff and project consultant SmithGroupJJR worked with Cheryl and the city to design and implement the project. Upon visiting the site this week, Cheryl offered, “All looks really good. I think the landing is easily seen from the main river, and I really like the pea gravel mix for boat dragging.” Island Park is situated along the popular Argo to Gallup paddle trip. Cheryl adds, “We will be directing many groups to this launch since Island Park is the best stopping off point for wading, playing, picnicking and restroom breaks.”

This river access improvement was made possible through the generous support of Marguerite Smith whose own experiences with the river motivates her philanthropy. “My husband was an avid outdoorsman and particularly enjoyed solo canoeing,” shares Marguerite. “The Huron River was a favorite of his and he paddled the entire length over a period of two summers,”  she recalls, “He would be pleased with the improvements that are underway through RiverUp! to enhance access and enjoyment of this wonderful resource.”

RiverUp! is the signature placemaking initiative for the Huron River and its communities. Through this effort, we are working to assist communities to maximize the Huron River as a community asset to attract residents, visitors, and businesses. From the launch of the initiative in August 2011 to present, RiverUp! is generating interest in the river and its communities, and is part of a broader Great Lakes vision to maximize freshwater resources for community development.