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Glacial Lake State Trail link reopens to the public

Barricades block a segment of the Glacial Lakes Trail north of New London in this Dec. 11, 2008, file photo. The Department of Natural Resources put up the barricades during a land dispute between the state and an individual who has title section of land where the trail is located. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

SPICER -- The best way to go by snowmobile from New London to Hawick is once again the Glacial Lakes State Trail.

A land dispute that had closed a short segment of the trail about 1½ miles north of New London -- effectively blocking much of the trail to snowmobile travel as a result -- has been resolved, according to Gregg Soupir, area trails and waterways supervisor with the Department of Natural Resources in Spicer.

The DNR has entered into a purchase agreement with Bill Plamann of Dassel to acquire a half-acre tract and reopen the trail. As part of the agreement, Plamann will allow the trail to be reopened on the property pending the completion of the sale.

The trail closed in November. A short segment of the trail is on the edge of a quarter-section of land Plamann owns. The DNR originally acquired the 18 miles of abandoned rail property from the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1990, and relied on what proved to be an inaccurate description of the boundary there.

Plamann purchased a 40-acre section in 1991. It was later determined that the trail crossed his land. The trail was paved in 1995.

The DNR has made offers to the landowner since 2002, but none had been accepted.

The agreement and reopening comes at an opportune time, Soupir said. Snow conditions on the trail are excellent for snowmobiling, and the forecast for this weekend is for ideal snowmobiling conditions. He said the trail has been very busy since the barricades have been removed.

In announcing the opening, Soupier also noted that the trail serves as a vital artery linking hundreds of miles of grant-in-aid trails through the county. The trail's closing received widespread attention in the local area, but Soupir said until recently his office was still receiving calls from distraught snowmobilers who encountered the barricades.