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Scenic byway signs will highlight DL

The Lake Country Scenic Byway that runs from Detroit Lakes to Walker is already state recognized. By next year, it should be nationally recognized. Soon, it will be locally recognized with appropriate signage.

Tourism Director Cleone Stewart said the 88-mile byway that connects Detroit Lakes, Park Rapids and Walker has received 80 percent funding to pay for signs at each city to notify people they are on the scenic byway.

The Lake Country Scenic Byway received $44,400 as part of a $22 million federal grant from the Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byways Program. The money was used for 80 percent of the signs in Detroit Lakes, Snellman and Osage, those communities involved that are in Becker County.

The administration gives grants that recognize and enhance selected roads based on their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or scenic qualities.

The byway committee is looking for help with the remaining 20 percent.

Stewart also serves as president of the Lake County Scenic Byway board.

Detroit Lakes Mayor Larry Buboltz said he's in favor of the signs, but also wants to make sure they are similar to the proposed signs for the Highway 10 entrances to the city as well.

The Scenic Byway signs are proposed to be located near the intersection of Highway 59 South and Highway 34, and one on Highway 59 South.

The funds Stewart said the bureau is looking for are $2,500 this year and $2,500 next year from both the city and the county. Both have agreed. That will pay for the two signs needed. Each sign costs $7,200.

"The base and support timbers, most communities want to do themselves," Stewart said of the labor.

Through the grant, signs will also be put up in Snellman and Osage in Becker County.

Last week, the city agreed to help fund the needed monies up front, but asked Stewart to go to local service clubs to ask for money to reimburse the city and to raise money for the signs needed along Highway 10 after the re-alignment as well.

Once bids are let and accepted, it should take about 10 days to complete the signs. Depending on how long it takes to accept bids, Stewart said she'd like to get the signs up this fall yet but might have to store them for the winter and have them in place next spring.

The signs will emphasize, "welcome to this community" and then mention the Scenic Byway as well, Stewart said.

She said the signs are only a part of the Scenic Byway plan, which may include a future bike trail from Detroit Lakes to Park Rapids.

Some of the points of interest along the byway include Itasca State Park; Pine-to-Prairie Birding Trail in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge; the Heartland State Trail, which consists of 47 miles of bike trails; Dorset, which boasts the most restaurants per capita, and Paul Bunyan in Akeley.

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