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Snowmobile trail being determined

Becker County's snowmobile trail system is a good one, and staff is looking to incorporate more people into it.

Chip Lohmeier, Becker County parks and recreation, met with the Public Works Committee Monday afternoon to request the use of land near the scenic overlook to get snowmobilers from Country Inn & Suites and Petro Plus onto the trail and Detroit Lake.

"Our intension is to use it from East Shore Drive to just past the Lodge on the Lake parking lot and follow onto the lake," he said. "We're trying to get those people who use those facilities onto the lake."

Snowmobilers would come off Detroit Lake, through the edge of the scenic overlook area and onto the existing pedestrian path. Lohmeier said the county would take responsibility for any repairs for damages snowmobiles would cause to the path.

He added that there will be a four-foot section along the lakeshore where there are smaller rocks so it won't be as dangerous for snowmobilers. He also said the county could bring in truck loads of clean snow to pack more in on the rocks and path to avoid ruining anything.

Alderman Leonard Heltemes expressed his concern for snowmobilers coming off the lake and hitting the rocks and causing harm to themselves.

Alderman James Hannon suggested funneling the snowmobilers over to the boat launch and then using the path instead of tearing up the landscape. He said that with all the money being spent on greening up the area, the snowmobiles would be ruining it instead.

Public Works Director Brad Green said he thought it would be better to go with 100 yards on the trail versus half a mile.

"The more distance is more chance for damage," he said.

Green suggested six conditions on allowing the county use of the path, to which the council eventually agreed. Proper signage and snow fences will be installed, asphalt will be covered with material to protect it from damage (likely woodchips), the trail be monitored, the county is responsible for repairs, the city can withdraw from agreement at any time and the agreement be reviewed each year.

Alderman Bruce Imholte pointed out that since there are no plantings yet, the city should allow the trail use this winter and then review it next year.

"What happens if we don't pass this?" questioned committee member Matt Brenk. "They're just going to go through with it anyway?"

Lohmeier replied that any damage to the trail would then fall on the city if not to approved for the county to take responsibility of the snowmobile portion of the trail.

Although there wasn't a general consensus at the Public Works meeting, the issue went to the Detroit Lakes City Council on Tuesday evening, where more discussion took place and the council voted in favor of using a portion of the trail for snowmobiling. Which portion hasn't been decided on yet, but Green and Lohmeier are working together to determine the best route.