Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Redwood commissioners establish parks and trails committee

  • Redwood County officially has one county park – Plum Creek Park near Walnut Grove – which has as its northern border the Minnesota River Valley; land along that river border has been underused in terms of recreational opportunities in Redwood County....
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  • Over the years, members of the Redwood County Board of Commissioners have talked in depth about improving recreational opportunities to enhance the potential for visitors in the area and to provide added amenities for the county’s residents. Redwood County, which officially has one county park – Plum Creek Park near Walnut Grove – has as its northern border the Minnesota River Valley. Land along that river border, which it shares with Renville County has historically been underutilized in terms of recreational opportunities in Redwood County, especially in comparison with its neighbor to the north. In order to create new parks and trails options for the residents of the county and to enhance its current park site, the county commissioners recently established a new committee that is going to focus on recreation options aptly known as the parks and trails committee. That committee, which is made up of one representative from each commissioner district, as well as two members of the county board met recently to begin the process of defining what it is and what it wants to do. Commissioners Sharon Hollatz, whose district makes up the majority of the Min-nesota River valley land, and Lon Walling, who represents the district where Plum Creek Park is located, have been joined by Duane Anderson, Duane Heiling, Ted Suss, Mike Salmon and Tom Breitkreutz on the parks and trails committee. The committee is also receiving guidance from Mark Erickson and Sarah Folsted of Renville County, which has significant experience with park development, as well as Vicki Knobloch of Redwood County. One of the pieces of advice Erickson and Folsted suggested was for the park committee to move forward with an application to the legacy fund, with funds used to hire a consultant who could help point the county in the right direction as it proceeds. The idea of submitting an application was approved by the group by consensus, and then sent on for official approval by the Redwood County board. That approval was made at its meeting March 18. It makes sense, said Erickson, for the two counties to work together on a vision for the corridor they share, and to work on a plan that would create a consistent recreation message for visitors regardless of what side of the river they end up enjoying. Renville County has a park system that is more than five decades old, said Erickson, adding the county has six parks that include more than 1,400 acres. The goal was to make land that was in ag, but was not usable for ag, into something people could enjoy, explained Erickson, adding there is an advisory board that is made up of citizens who help to ensure those parks are maintained and updated for visitors. Renville County is well ahead of its neighbor to the south, but that is good news for Redwood County. It is now able to take what Renville County has already established and fine tune those established by-laws and mission and vision statements to fit what is best for the county as it creates a parks and trails future. There are other opportunities for the county to consider, including the future development of the Minnesota River Trail and the Casey Jones Trail. Both established trail plans pass through Redwood County, with the connection of the two major state trails also in the county. Should the counties have their application approved, future planning and input would include more residents of the region, and in the future the public is going to be asked to provide what it thinks is the best way for the newly established committee to proceed. There are options for so many different groups, said Hollatz, whether it is horse enthusiasts, bikers, walkers, hunters, people who fish and even those who enjoy ATVs and snowmobiles. Helping the public enjoy those options is something she hopes can be accomplished through this committee.
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