At a dinner event at Black Star Farms on October 2nd, the officials of Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails awarded the 5th annual Jim Mudgett Trail Pioneer Award. The award was presented to Dick Naperala by past recipient Tim Brick.
Dick Naperala, a founding member of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club, has been a leader in the development and maintenance of 90 miles of hiking trails in northwest Michigan for over 15 years. He worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to re-route the North Country Trail off of the Shore-to-Shore Horse trail to connect Muncie Lakes Pathway with the Sand Lakes Quiet Area.
After working for years on a proposal to the MDNR, Dick recently received permission to establish a trail to connect the Vasa Pathway with Sand Lakes and the North Country Trail, along with a link to the Kalkaska area trail system. This will complete a continuous non-motorized trail from Traverse City to Kalkaska, with North Country Trail connections to New York and North Dakota! Fellow hiking club enthusiasts gushed over Dick’s dedication to the North Country Trail and said “he spent hundreds of hours in the woods scouting potential routes.”
Lesser known to most, Dick spends a lot of time behind the wheel of ski grooming equipment when the snow flies. He is one of the members of the TART Trails grooming crew who works many early mornings preparing the Vasa Pathway for cross-country skiing.
One of the quotes from a nomination letter said it best, “It is true that countless other people were involved in the work of building these trails, but without Dick’s inspiration and leadership it would not have happened.” Dick Naperala has been a positive force in our area over the years by visioning trails that connect people to the great outdoors to experience nature and receive an enlightening recreation experience.
“Dick has displayed the work ethic, character, integrity and dedication to this community and that should be recognized and honored. He is an incredibly worthy recipient and I’m proud that he has won the award this year.” Bob Otwell, TART Trails Executive Director.
The Jim Mudgett Award was created to honor and pay tribute to individuals who have shown leadership and passion for our local trails. The award is given annually at TART’s Octoberfest dinner party.