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Detroit Lakes works to link area trails together

With some off-road trails here, some paved trails there and some shared roads everywhere, Detroit Lakes has just over 26 mile of paths for bikes. The next step is a design to link them all together, including linking them to the nearly 5 miles of existing county trails and 9.9 miles of undeveloped trails.

That's what the Detroit Lakes Public Works Department and the park board is working toward, and is asking the public's input on Tuesday evening. Following the city council's special meeting to adopt budget cuts, Public Works Director Brad Green and Parks Supervisor Tom Gulon will be hosting an open house for the public to give their input on where they would like to see trailheads, future park locations and just general information on how trails would be used and how often.

Getting this plan in place, Green said, "will help the Heartland Trail come here." It is proposed to extend the Heartland Trail from Park Rapids to Moorhead, via Frazee and Detroit Lakes.

Even before that happens though, the city has some plans of its own to sign the existing trails, including mileage and directional signs. A map of the system would be available at the Chamber of Commerce then, Green added.

Different portions of the trails would connect different areas of the city.

For example, one route would connect to the downtown area. Another would connect to Dunton Locks and Long Lake Park. Yet another would lead to the existing bike path along Richwood Road.

"We're hoping to implement some of this in the summer, with the road construction," Green said. "If we have a system, we can easily put a trailhead in where needed.

"Small steps at a time."

Green said he is talking with some service clubs, and will talk to others, about sponsoring sections of the trail to get them connected.

Many arguments in favor of the trail system can be made, including health and exercise, tourism and recreation.

"It's to improve safety and the quality of life for everyone," he said.

The meeting starts immediately after the city council meeting Tuesday, which begins at 5 p.m. inside city hall. The public is asked to fill out a short survey and take a look at trail options for providing feedback.