UPPER SIOUX AGENCY STATE PARK -- Legislators grappling with a projected state budget of over $900 million could still axe some of the requests for new trail development in the state bonding bill. One local project stands a good chance of surviving the cuts, according to Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Minnesota Parks and Trails Council.
Grilley said he remains optimistic that the final bonding bill will include funding to begin work on a recreational trail to link Appleton and Milan. Grilley spoke on Tuesday to the Friends for the Upper Sioux Agency State Park at their annual meeting at the park near Granite Falls.
Area legislators are working to see $1.6 million in state funds awarded to build the eight-mile trail. Some $300,000 in federal funds is available if state funds are provided.
Grilley said he believes that the final bill will include about one-half of the $1.6 million needed for the trail's development. The non-profit organization is supporting the 50 percent reduction. He said the Parks and Trails Council anticipates that many trail funding requests will be cut in half due to the budget deficit, and it supports efforts to spread the available dollars to as many projects as possible in the state.
Two members of the Minnesota River Valley Trails Alliance -- which has worked to launch the Appleton to Milan trail -- urged Grilley to put his organization's support behind full funding for the project. Patrick Moore of Montevideo, who is also the director of Clean up our River Environment, told Grilley that local trail supporters have worked for years to help make possible the right-of-way now in the ready for the trail. Also, he and trails advocate Geoff Hathaway indicated that it would greatly benefit the momentum needed for trail development in the region.
This area has seen very little state investment in trails, Moore said.
Grilley said his organization will continue to support efforts to develop a trail connecting Granite Falls and Wegdahl, which will link to an existing trail to Montevideo. The City of Granite Falls and the Twin Cities and Western Railroad are in litigation over the city's efforts to acquire right-of-way from the railroad for the trail.
Grilley pointed out that other trails have been developed after years of litigation. His organization remains committed to lending the city the funds to acquire the property when the litigation is resolved, he said.