Can we afford more recreational trails?

By shirley japp

Guest Columnist

 

In response to the guest column in the Sept. 3 Morrison County Record, “Why we need more trails,” the chair of the CRVST committee implies that the trail is designed, built and maintained by the DNR. According to a Morrison County Record news story (10/21/12) about a CRVST meeting (10/11/12), the corridor study was done with Bolton and Menk Inc., Brainerd. The money for the study came from cities, counties, ATV clubs, etc. A three-mile corridor was penciled in.

Coincidentally, the Camp Ripley ACUB program is a three-mile corridor. Talking points from their literature (3/3/04) cite their commitment to conserving and preserving its natural and cultural resources. They state Camp Ripley abounds with plant and animal life unique to central Minnesota, an issue raised by a letter to the editor (8/27/17). The Camp Ripley buffer has now been extended to a 10-mile area under the Sentinel Landscape program.

It is true the DNR cannot condemn privately owned property. However, under Minnesota state law, the county has the explicit right to take it through condemnation; as was the case in Dakota County as cited in the Aug. 27 letter to the editor. That case was settled in court with the property owners granting an easement for the trail, while maintaining the remainder of their property which has been in the family for three generations.

The estimated cost of construction of the CRVST trail in 2011 was $28-$33 million. It has been bonded for twice at taxpayers´ expense. The DNR´s asset preservation fund requests for trails is in the millions. My question is, “Can we afford more trails?”

 

Shirley Japp is a resident of Little Falls.