Opinion

Adding miles to the trail system

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Dickinson County Trails Board has substantial plans to expand trail development this coming season. Through a number of foundation, state and federal grants along with donations to the DCTB development fund, the board is working on goals to add nearly 8 miles of new trail this year.

A key project identified for development in 2020 is the rail trail Tatonka Ska Trace that will be extended another four miles to connect it with Highway 86 and the north tunnel at the West Okoboji Harbor. We also have the opportunity to replace street routes by filling in several gaps around West Lake Okoboji with off-road paved trails. Other projects include a bicycle bypass around East Okoboji Slough and continuation of the Highway 71 Trail north from Nature Center Road and connecting it with the Spirit Lake Trail. With the funding available, DCTB took into consideration projects that can be completed within a year or two and had adequate right of way to build upon. The trail development that occurs in 2020 will significantly advance all of the projects on DCTB's long-term trail plan and provide for a more connected trail system.

2020 MAINTENANCE PLANS

DCTB will be taking on several maintenance improvements this coming season that include overlays and drainage repairs. These projects include over 4 miles of surface overlays on the Nature Center and Spine Trails along with ADA and ramp improvements. Additionally, we will be addressing drainage issues on the Silver Lake and West Okoboji Trails that also include improvements to both tunnels under Highway 86. The DCTB looks forward to expanding and improving the outdoor recreational experience throughout the Iowa Great Lakes in the year ahead.

TRAIL USE DURING CV-19

The Dickinson County Conservation crew has been out sweeping the trails, fixing signs and clearing branches in preparation for spring use. As temperatures warm up and we eagerly anticipate getting outside while dealing with the coronavirus, we urge the community to practice safe, responsible trail use and self-care at all times. Exercising independently or in very small numbers is being encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and trail managers across the country.

Trails are increasingly being counted on as places where people can continue to be physically active and find respite. Please help keep trails safe for everyone by practicing physical distancing with at least 6 feet of space between you and other trail users and do not gather in groups. Stay close to home, be prepared and carry water, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes as facilities and water fountains may be off limits. Above all, follow the latest public health guidance from the CDC and restrictions of local governments and health officials.

As always, "Happy Trails to You and Yours."