Volunteers earn award for service to local parks

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 29, 2019


UTICA — Local volunteers were recently applauded for their hard work and service to help keep local parks maintained and thriving.

A local group called the Clinton River Area Mountain Bike Association, or CRAMBA, was awarded an mParks Volunteer Service Award at a ceremony April 17.

The Michigan Recreation and Park Association mParks Foundation “provides financial support to people and programs that work to enrich the health and well-being of all Michigan citizens through increased access to recreation and outdoor experiences,” according to its website.

Volunteers who dedicate their time to bettering the parks contribute more than 28,000 hours per year to the Metroparks, and their efforts help the parks achieve goals they otherwise could not.

CRAMBA volunteers hundreds of hours every year for trail maintenance work and advocates for the Shelden Trails development project.

Steve Vigneau, a member of the CRAMBA board, said the group is working to expand the trails for everyone to use.

“Through this redevelopment, we are working to expand the trails for all users, including significantly increasing trail mileage, improving the navigability of the trails and incorporating modern design, which’ll both make more sustainable and longer-lasting trails, and make them more fun for users of all abilities.”

CRAMBA volunteers started helping maintain the Shelden Trails, a 14-mile, multi-use trail system at Stony Creek Metropark, in 1990.

“We were nominated for this award by the Metroparks for our work on the mountain bike trails at Stony Creek. Our volunteers have been working on the trails and mountain bike facilities in Stony Creek since 1990. We are also an active partner, working with the Metroparks on the redevelopment of the Shelden Trails area, where most of the mountain bike trails are located,” Vigneau said.

CRAMBA works with numerous park systems throughout the Clinton River watershed area, including the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, Oakland County Parks and Recreation, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights, and Columbus County Parks.

CRAMBA volunteers help with trail maintenance through regular volunteer workdays to clear brush and do minor trail restoration. CRAMBA also is involved in the Shelden Trails development project, which is a three-year project to redevelop the Shelden Trails system.

Amy McMillan, the director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, said they are really happy that the volunteers have gone out of their way to better the parks.

“We are really excited that our volunteers have been recognized for the contribution they have made to the parks, and how they have made the parks a priority for the project and for people who visit our parks and the entire region we serve,” said McMillan.

The volunteers are nominated for the award and go through a process to be chosen. After reviewing the nominations, a team of people chooses the award winners based on categories.

“It is a really important impact on the park at which they are working, because it helps us do things we aren’t able to do without volunteers’ help. It has a corresponding impact on the environment,” said McMillan.

Vigneau said they plan to continue their volunteer work to create better trails for everyone to use.

“We expect to continue this work maintaining trails and further enhancing mountain bike access throughout the area in the form of everything from new trail design and construction to maintenance of existing trail, from hosting events to spread the love of mountain biking to supporting fellow trail users through our Mountain Bike Patrol,” he said.

McMillan said they are always looking for people to volunteer. For more information, visit metroparks.com/get-involved/volunteering.