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Inaugural Jim Mudgett Award recipients announced

Sun, Oct  31, 2004

TRAVERSE CITY (October 29, 2004)- Last evening, at a dinner event at Black Star Farms, the officials of Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails awarded the inaugural Jim Mudgett Trail Pioneer Award. 

Bill Smith, a long time friend and colleague of Jim Mudgett, spoke about Jim and the award before the crowd.  Jim Mudgett was a founding member of the TART Trails Board of Directors, was a trail chief on the Leelanau Trail, and a long time supporter of the Vasa Pathway. He used the TART and Leelanau trails regularly to commute to work, and was an ever present ambassador of the trails to people he met. Jim was an advocate of not only ensuring that our community had plenty of great places to play, but also a life-long promoter of healthy living.

“The loss of our friend Jim Mudgett in January 2004, made us think about the great loss to our community of these active people who enjoyed the great out doors and helped us develop our trail facilities,” said Smith. Now, the Jim Mudgett Award recognizes those who have shown extraordinary trail stewardship and will permanently distinguish them in a hall of fame.  “I think Jim would have been honored and proud to have an award in his name that recognizes local trail advocates,” said Smith.

Nominations were open to anyone who has advocated for building, maintaining and using trails in the Traverse area. TART Trails received nominations for over a dozen wonderful candidates. The selection committee had a difficult decision.  Bob Otwell, Executive Director at TART Trails, explained, “for the inaugural class, we have selected one nominee from each of the three trails.”

The Jim Mudgett Trail Pioneer Awards were presented to Dave Monstrey for the Leelanau Trail, George Lombard for the Vasa Pathway and June Thaden for the TART Trail.  Karen Mudgett presented each award recipient with a framed print photographed by Jim Mudget.  The print featured Pink Lady’s Slippers on the Leelanau Trail.

Dave Monstrey founded and was the first president of the Leelanau Trail Association.  Dave has spent countless hours at public meetings, board meetings and on the trail working to convert the rail corridor.  He has sat calmly at public meetings for almost 10 years while people criticized his dream for local residents to simply have a safe place to walk and bike. He still volunteers his time and his tractor to maintain the Leelanau Trail.

George Lombard served for many years on the Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Commission. On a state level, he also serves on the MDNR Trails advisory board.  He had a vision for a permanent Vasa Trail, and set about to make it happen. His work included countless meetings with the DNR and property owners, and countless hours physically building the trail. He had a vision for a warming hut at the Vasa Trailhead, and made that happen for us to enjoy.

June Thaden was one of the three initial board members of Citizens for Better Ways, founded in 1987. This group was renamed The Friends of TART in 1989. She was also a charter member of the Cherry Capital Cycling Club and one of the club’s first Presidents. At the state level, June helped found the Michigan Chapter of the Rails to Trails Conservancy and served on the Board, and also served on the Board and was President of the League of Michigan Bicyclists. At the national level, she served on the board and was president of the League of American Bicyclists, a group founded in the 1890’s dedicated to promoting bicycling.

“As TART Trails moves forward and continues to advocate for bicycles and pedestrians in the Traverse area, we are always standing on the shoulders of those who have come before, and we appreciate all of the hard work, perseverance and dedication from these leaders,” said Bob Wick, President of the TART Trails Board.  “The TART Trails organization would not be where it is today without the foresight and guidance of those who created the dream,” continued Wick.

TART Trails, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization.  The TART Trails are a network of four trail systems located in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties utilized by thousands of people who walk, bike, run, in-line skate, cross-country ski and commute. TART Trails connects us to people, to communities, and to our past. The four trails include the Boardman Lake Trail, Leelanau Trail, TART Trail, and Vasa Pathway. The TART trails combine to form 50 miles of recreation and transportation pathways spanning from Suttons Bay to Acme Township. It is estimated that the trails serve over 200,000 users annually while preserving valuable community greenspace.

Missy Luyk
Trail Program Specialist
TART Trails, Inc.
P. O. Box 252
Traverse City, MI 49685
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Boardman Trail - Leelanau Trail - TART Trail - Vasa Pathway