Bringing Byron Back
Population: Under 2,500
We lost the majority of our historic downtown due to an arson fire in 2012. This devastated our tight-knit community and we are all family in this town. We are working diligently to try to rebuild our downtown. Our town lies on the beautiful Shiawassee River and we’re rediscovering the river as a valuable natural asset that draws people to the area for nature, recreation and fun. We recognized that there is great potential for tapping into the river for canoeing, kayaking and river walks. With that in mind, we completed a new canoe and kayak launch near downtown on the Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail.
Replicability:Our funding was limited, so we launched a collaborative effort with the Byron Downtown Development Authority, Byron Village Council, Byron Area Schools, and local volunteers. Along with a grant from Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) and other funding, the new launch went from a good idea to a successful finished project. Friends of the Shiawassee River and also teamed up with the DDA and the public to do some much-needed river clean-up and cleared the way for canoes and kayaks to once again utilize the beautiful Shiawassee River.
Creativity and Originality:Locals had been using the site as a makeshift boat launch for several years, but it was rocky, muddy, and unstable. On top of that, its unofficial status as a safe put-in discouraged many people from using it or even seeing the river as a valuable part of the community. The new launch is much more attractive and inviting, complete with parking and informative signage. It offers residents and visitors an opportunity to paddle their way into the heart of the village.
Community Impact:We wanted to strengthen the perception of this part of the Shiawassee River as an attractive recreation spot and foster a sense of stewardship for the river in our residents and visitors. Since completing the launch improvements, we have seen a significant increase in use and it's helping launch other development activities in the community. Plus, this project has given a little hope to our community that we can bounce back from tragedy.
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