Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Hart-Montague Trail State Park in Oceana County will soon be getting a new name: the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail State Park.

At last week’s meeting of the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon, Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh announced his intention to work with the NRC on the name change to honor Mr. Field, a long-time trails advocate. Director Creagh said the department will bring to the June NRC meeting a resolution outlining the proposed name change for consideration by the commission.

“Mr. Field was the main force in the creation of the Hart-Montague Trail State Park,” Creagh said. “A local farmer, Mr. Field took it upon himself to negotiate with the CSX Railroad Company, after rail service ended in Oceana County in 1981, to acquire the 21 miles of trail. He then developed and paved the trail before gifting it to the state in 1987.

“Without the vision of Mr. Field, our entire rails-to-trails program might look very different today.”

Mr. Field was a lifelong resident of Oceana County. He passed away on Dec. 30, 2005. He was recognized in 1998 by The Detroit News as a “Michiganian of the Year” for his efforts in establishing the trail, which in the spring of 1989 became the first paved rail-trail in Michigan. The rail-trail runs from the city of Hart south to the city of Montague.

Creagh also praised Sen. Goeff Hansen (R-Hart), who introduced legislation (Senate Bill 154) to rename the trail.

“Efforts toward renaming this trail are due in large part to Sen. Hansen’s passionate advocacy on behalf of his constituent, Mr. Field,” said Creagh.

Sen. Hansen added: “I appreciate Director Creagh’s work to acknowledge the significance of Mr. Field’s generous gift to the state of Michigan. Renaming this trail after Mr. Field is a worthy recognition and would be a constant reminder for all who use this popular rail-trail.”

Learn more about this unique and scenic trail at www.michigan.gov/hartmontague.