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|Paynesville Press - March 22, 2006|
Comment sought on DNR trail
While another section of the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail - connecting the city to the city beach - nears construction this summer, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering improvements of the Glacial Lakes State Trail from New London to Paynesville. Map|
The DNR has opened a comment period about changing the surface of the Glacial Lakes State Trail from two miles east of New London to the Kandiyohi/Stearns border just west of Paynesville.
In last year's bonding bill, $500,000 was allotted to the Glacial Lakes State Trail, which runs on an abandoned railroad bed for 38 miles from Willmar to Richmond. Specifically, this money was to upgrade the trail from New London to Paynesville. Local legislators are expected to push for another $1 million in this year's bonding bill to make upgrades in the trail from Paynesville to Richmond.
The Lake Koronis Recreational Trail - aiming to connect the city to Lake Koronis and eventually to circle the lake - has a federal grant to build a four-mile stretch this summer connecting the city to Old Lake Road, where an existing trail will link it with Veteran's Memorial Park on Lake Koronis. This project is in the final design stages and is expected to be bid this summer and built in late summer or early fall.
In last year's bonding bill, $365,000 was also allotted to connect the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail with the Glacial Lakes State Trail. This section, which possibly could be ready for construction this year, would go down Cemetery Road - which is to be realigned by the pending improvements to Highway 23 in Paynesville - and connect to the Glacial Lakes State Trail right at the Kandiyohi/Stearns border.
The DNR hopes to get that far in paving the Glacial Lakes State Trail, said Gregg Soupir, area trails and waterways supervisor in the DNR's office in Spicer. In paving the trail, "We'll get as far as we can," he said.
According to the DNR, the Glacial Lakes State Trail from Willmar to Richmond was purchased by the state in the 1990s. (The railroad from Cold Spring east is still used.)
Also in the 1990s, the DNR paved 13 miles of the trail from Willmar to just past New London. The five-mile section from New London to Hawick is crushed granite, while the 20 miles from Hawick to Richmond are unimproved.
The DNR was charged with monitoring these surfaces and after ten years now recommend improving the trail from New London to the Kandiyohi/Stearns border.
The crushed granite surface from New London to Hawick, according to Soupir, has few fans. "We found it to be very undesirable for everyone. Bikers just turn around. Snowmobilers complain about it mixing with the snow. And we even have heard complaints from horseback riders that those sharp rocks get caught in their hooves," he said.
"Mostly," Soupir added, "no one uses it."
According to a user study by the DNR from the 1998 summer season, nearly 34,000 hours were logged on the Glacial Lakes State Trail. Ninety-one percent of trail users were from Willmar to New London, with only nine percent from New London to Hawick. (From Willmar to Spicer accounted for 36 percent of trail users, and from Spicer to New London accounted for 55 percent.)
By activity, 61 percent of trail users were bikers, 17 percent walkers, 15 percent skaters, five percent runners, and just over one percent horseback riders.
If the Glacial Lakes State Trail were paved from New London to Paynesville, it would still be open to all current users, including horseback riders and snowmobilers, said Soupir.
Comments about the DNR proposal to change the surface of the Glacial Lakes State Trail from New London to the Kandiyohi/Stearns border just west of Paynesville can be sent to Soupir at: DNR Trails & Waterways; P.O. Box 457; Spicer, MN 56288. Or e-mailed to him at: email@example.com.
Comments are due by Monday, April 17.
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