About 25 people attended an open house at the Brainerd Public Library Monday to learn more about a proposed boundary expansion of Crow Wing State Park.
A citizens advisory committee recommended an expansion after looking at the Crow Wing Park Management Plan. Paul Roth, park manager, said Potlatch has expressed interest in selling 408 acres. The land is located along the Mississippi River between the park and the new Highway 371 bypass bridge and would add to the park, which has 1,700 acres.
In order for the expansion, a bill is needed to expand state park boundaries. Roth said that they will not be ready to bring the proposal to legislators this year, but plan to have it ready for the 2002 legislative session.
Roth said most of the people that he has talked to so far have been very supportive of a boundary expansion.
Carol Crust, Brainerd, who served on the advisory committee, said, "There is so much development everywhere you go. If you don't start saving spaces you won't get anything."
Ken Pederson, who owns property adjacent to the park, said he is glad that the land may be saved for the future. Pederson uses the park quite a bit for fishing.
John and Lila Handeland, Brainerd, visit the park often and said the more land the better. They have been to 64 state parks and like Crow Wing State Park the best.
"They keep the trails groomed and take care of them," said John Handeland. "I hope it goes through. It would improve the park and it would get more usage."
Mark Platta, Crow Wing Township chairperson, said the town board and the people who attended meetings on this issue are in favor of the boundary expansion.
"I see it as a good buffer for the township and it will help with annexation issues," said Platta.
There are about a dozen property owners that are currently outside the proposed boundary expansion of the state park. Resident Terry McGaughey, who led the development of the Paul Bunyan State Trail, suggested that the boundary for the expansion should expand and follow 60th Avenue, Sweet Road, Anthony Road and 43rd Street. This then would allow the property owners to have their land in the statutory boundary.
"These properties would help form a 'conservation connection' along the Mississippi River, a natural resource and recreation corridor along the river near one of the fastest growing areas in Minnesota," said Roth. "The property preserves the scenic views along the river, protects the natural resources, including wildlife habitat, erodible riverbanks and water quality and facilitates the connection of the Paul Bunyan State Trail from Brainerd to the state park."
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