The Ann Arbor-based firm Environmental Consulting and Technology, Inc. (ECT) was secured at the onset of trail design. ECT was chosen for its long record of successfully balancing complex, multidisciplinary site selection evaluations that include environmental, social, economic, and land use issues. ECT performed a comprehensive Environmental Assessment (EA) over a two-year period of the entire trail route.
ECT has functioned as a trusted advisor, allowing Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam team to intentionally design segments of the trail, bridges, and overlooks to avoid and protect pristine Michigan habitats that may include rare and endangered species such as: bald eagles, rare turtles, massasauga rattlesnakes, Karner blue butterflies and their main source of nutrition, wild lupine. The trail was also specifically engineered with respect to setback requirements and trail design best practices to minimize embankment and other soil erosion, disruption of fisheries and to avoid cultural heritage sites. After years of study and analysis, several miles of Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam were rerouted and re-engineered from the original design to accommodate and preserve sensitive habitats and heritage sites. Similarly, the trail was designed around fragile ecosystems such as wetlands and bogs.
Trails, by their very nature, increase access to precious natural resources while keeping trail users on a predetermined course, thereby protecting the resource. Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam was designed with this balance in mind, strategically positioning bridges, water crossings, scenic overlooks and access points with environmental protection as a first directive.
To ensure the highest trail quality, the plan for Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam has been favorably reviewed by a variety of State and Federal Agencies, including:
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
- United States National Parks Service
- United State Department of Agriculture
- United States Department of Interior- Fish and Wildlife Service
- The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHIPO)
- West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources