The Shiawassee River Water Trail Coalition, is a committed stakeholder association of municipalities, agencies, non-profit corporations and interested individuals along the course of the Shiawassee River between Holly and Chesaning, Michigan. The Mission of the Coalition is to improve and promote public use of the water trail as a valuable resource for non-motorized recreation and tourism and to support and enhance river conservation and stewardship.

The Coalition begin in 2016 with support from organizations, such as Friends of the Shiawassee, Headwaters Trails, Inc., City of Linden, and Keepers of the Shiawassee which are dedicated to improve conservation, education, and recreation opportunities along the Shiawassee River. They received assistance from the National Park Service – Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, the University of Michigan-Flint, and the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network to create a Shiawassee River water trail plan, develop public information to promote paddling recreation and apply for National Water Trail Designation.

Organizations and local governments can join the coalition by signing on to the Memorandum of Understanding which formalizes the relationship between members of the Coalition and allows the Coalition to speak with one voice for the Shiawassee River Water Trail.

Partner Organizations




Partner Organizations

The following organizations and governments have supported our water trail initiatives by becoming, Members of the Shiawassee River Water Trail Coalition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the following:


Oakland County:

Headwaters Trails, Inc.

Blue Heron Land Conservancy

Village of Holly

Holly Township


Genesee County:

Keepers of the Shiawassee

Ponemah-Sqauw-Tupper Lake Assocation

Sierra Club - Nepassing Chapter

City of Fenton

Fenton Charter Township

City of Linden

Argentine Township

Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission

Genesee County Conservation District

Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation Metro District


Shiawassee County:

Friends of the Shiawassee River

Village of Byron

Village of Byron DDA

Shiawassee Township

Venice Township

Vernon Township

Village of Vernon

City of Corunna

Caledonia Township

City of Owosso

Rush Township

New Haven Township

Shiawassee County Parks and Recreation

DeVries Nature Conservancy

Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership


Saginaw County:

Village of Oakley

Village of Chesaning

Chesaning Township

Brady Township

Saginaw County Parks and Recreation


The following organizations and governments have supported our water trail initiatives by giving the Coalition support to use their river access points for paddlers:

  • Argentine Township
  • Byron Public Schools
  • Chesaning Township 
  • City of Corunna
  • City of Fenton
  • City of Linden
  • City of Owosso
  • DeVries Nature Conservancy 
  • Genesee County Drain Commission
  • Headwaters Trails
  • Holly Township
  • Owosso Public Schools
  • Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners
  • Village of Chesaning
  • Walnut Hills Campground


The following organizations and governments have supported our water trail initiatives by providing the Coalition with a letter of support:

Argentine Township 
Ben Frederick - State Rep
Byron DDA
Caledonia Charter Township
Charter Township of Fenton
Chesaning Village
City of Owosso
Community Foundation Greater Flint
Dan Kildee - U.S. Congress
Dave Robertson- State Senate
Debbie Stabenow - U.S. Senate
EZ Kayak
Fenton Chamber
Genesee Conservation District
Genesee County Drain Commissioners Office
Genesee County Parks
Genesee-Lapeer -Shiawassee Region Planning and Development Commissioner
Hank Vaupel - State Rep
Holly Area Schools

Holly Waste Water Plant

John Moolenaar - U.S. Congress

Joseph Graves - State Rep
Ken Horn - State Senator
Matador's Pizza
Memorial Healthcare

Michigan Municipal League

Michigan Lake and Stream Association 

New Haven Township
Oakland County Economic Dev. & Comm. Affairs
Oakland County Trail, Water, and Land Alliance
Owosso Charter Township
Red Fox Outfitters
Rick Jones - State Senate
Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy
Shiawassee Conservation Association
Shiawassee Conservation District
Shiawassee County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Shiawassee County Health Department
Shiawassee County Historical Society
Shiawassee County Parks and Rec Commission
Shiawassee Live Healthy Coalition
Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce
Shiawassee Township
Shiawassee YMCA
Sierra Club
Southern Lakes Parks & Rec.
Steelman Agency
The Nature Conservancy
Tim Kelly - State Rep
Village of Holly

Coalition Objectives

Our goal is to use the collective and cooperative energy of the Coalition to support projects that further our mission.  The Coalition is committed to the following objectives, to the best of each member’s ability, dependent upon policies, budgets, and agency procedures.

  • Coordinate and cooperate amongst Coalition organizations to further the mission of the Coalition and vision for the Shiawassee River Water Trail.
  • Offer mutual support and guidance on specific on-going projects.
  • Investigate opportunities for increasing funding of conservation, restoration, and low impact recreation projects and improvements on the Shiawassee River.
  • Increase community awareness of the recreational and environmental value of a healthy Shiawassee River.
  • Encourage development of new canoe and kayak launches where gaps exist along the river and at facilities that are slated for improvements or renovations.
  • Provide public information on the Shiawassee River Water Trail through partner websites, promotional and educational materials.
  • Promote the Shiawassee River Water Trail as a valuable resource for low impact recreation, education, stewardship, and tourism.
  • Encourage safe boating skills and outdoor ethics
  • While the focus of the Coalition is to promote  low impact recreation, the intent of this MOU is not to impede motorized use, or advocate for excluding motorized use on any section of the water trail.

Shiawassee River Water Trail Vision

In the year 2030, the Shiawassee River flowing from Holly to Chesaning, is a superlative water trail recognized in the Great Lakes Region as a destination for paddling and eco-tourism.  The water trail provides a wide variety of paddling experiences and accommodates people of all skills and abilities. It provides close to home outdoor recreation opportunities and ties into the region’s Saginaw Bay Water Trails and non-motorized trail systems.  

The communities along the river consider it to be an important asset and integral part of their community.  People can easily access the river and trail users are enticed to explore the heritage, businesses and services that the towns and villages along the trail offer.   Visitors are attracted to the water trail and the many events and programs that celebrate the River‘s natural and cultural heritage. 

The Shiawassee River’s water quality, fisheries, and wildlife habitat continue to improve through increased public and private landowner stewardship and the efforts of local conservation organizations. Increased River recreation is creating greater awareness and stewardship of the river’s natural resources and users practice Leave No Trace principles.   


Goals for the Shiawassee River Water Trail

  •  Promote and improve river related recreation, public access sites and user experiences
  • Inform and educate the public on topics related to river health, safety, and Leave No Trace Principles
  • Support local and regional efforts to increase water based recreation and tourism
  • Enhance partnerships among water trail landowners and managers
  • Preserve and protect river resources for future generations
  • Increase connections between communities, public lands, and land trails
  • Secure long-term sustainability of the water trail
  • Maintain access sites
  • Manage woody debris to support fish populations and allow for recreational access with minimal impact



Every organization needs volunteers to coordinate different types of work. Here are some ways you can help get the Shiawassee River designated as a National Water Trail. 

Will you volunteer?