Becker County is putting together a Master Trails Plan and wants public input.
The next meeting is 5-7 p.m. today, Aug. 21, at the Detroit Lakes Public Library.
The county’s consulting firm on the trails plan is SRF Consulting Group Inc. of Fargo, which will explain where the process is now and facilitate discussion with the public on recreational trail types, destinations and future opportunities.
SRF Consulting and a local trails working group will put together the Master Trail Plan after getting public input, although it won’t be written in stone.
“There’s always flexibility associated with it,” said Guy Fischer, Becker County Economic Development Coordinator..
At the public meeting, those who show up “will have the opportunity to help plan recreation in the county for a span that could be their lifetime,” Fischer said. “It’s all about looking into the future and bringing it back to the present.” A half-dozen large maps will be displayed at the meeting, showing various types of trails, and different routing options.
There is a lot happening with trails in the county right now. There’s the paved Heartland Trail that will ultimately run from Osage to Frazee to Detroit Lakes and west into Clay County and Moorhead. The Detroit Lakes to Frazee segment will be the first one paved in the county.
For hikers, there’s the unpaved North Country National Scenic Trail, which runs through the Great Lakes region and across Minnesota, including Becker County.
The Ottertail River is an official “water trail” for canoes and kayakers.
The Heartland Trail, the North Country Trail and the Ottertail River trail all run through Frazee, where there is an effort to create a regional park to serve as a hub for trail users.
Across Becker County there are existing or planned mountain bike trails, snowmobile trails, ATV trails and horse trails, among other recreational trails.
The Master Trails Plan will serve as a planning tool for trail supporters and an organizational tool to help bring funding to the projects, Fischer said. “There are different groups with different aims, and they’ll be able to utilize this (master plan) as a guide, to use it for funding, or to convey to other counties that ‘this is what we’re looking at,’” he said. “There are opportunities for collaboration with folks in other counties.”
The snowmobile clubs are very interested in the plan, as are some of the ATV clubs, Fischer added. There are grant-in-aid funds for both groups available from the state, which helps clear the way for trail projects, he added.
But the master plan is only a first step, he said. “There is a lot (of legwork left) to cobbling together approval processes as well as getting the money to do the work,” he said.
The Master Trails Plan is being paid for by Becker County, Partnership 4 Health, the West Central Initiative, the City of Frazee, and Osage Township.