What’s the next step for the Mississippi Northwoods Project?
Crow Wing County’s next step is to develop an inventory of existing trails and roads on the property. The county’s stated goal is to create a system of designated and managed recreation trails.
The Mississippi Northwoods preserves land along the Mississippi River north of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. As of November, Crow Wing County is managing the more than 2,000 acres.
In 2012, the Minnesota Legislature approved spending $11 million from the state’s Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
Passed by voters in 2008, the Legacy amendment uses a state sales tax increase over 25 years to fund projects for the outdoors, clean water, parks and trails and arts and cultural heritage.
Jake Frie, natural resource manager, reported the existing trails not included on the managed trail list would be considered forest trails and wouldn’t be maintained either by the county or user groups. Those trails would primarily be used for hiking, berry picking and hunting or trapping. Even after a timber sale may disturb a traditional trail now considered a forest trail, it would not be retained unless there was a safety or environmental issue.
Frie said the plan is to utilize the county’s comprehensive trail process by including public comments and best management practices.
Administrator Tim Houle said the county is trying to openly designate trails in order to manage them. People are welcome to weigh in on the matter. Trails that aren’t designated won’t be closed but won’t receive same attention.
Commissioner Paul Koering, who said earlier that he wasn’t in favor of the county having a parks department, questioned what the Mississippi Northwoods project was and where it was located. The land is by the airport and the county’s landfill. Given that location, Koering said he understood the goal on not developing the land.
Frie said per statute the county had to manage the land for diverse recreation and stainability.