It's not the Maah Daah Hey. But hey, it's mighty close.
And for area mountain bikers, that's what counts.
The DNR has published an environmental assessment worksheet on a mountain bike trail system in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, near Ironton and Crosby, and is accepting public comments until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 19 on the proposal.
The DNR proposes building 37.5 miles of mountain bike trails entirely within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. This in addition to the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail, a paved 5-mile-plus trail that currently runs through the CCSRA and will be used as a connection trail from which the dirt trail will jump off at several locations.
A mountain bike trail is set to join the 5-plus-mile paved trail inside the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, affording even more views of pristine mine pit lakes.
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Brainerd Dispatch/ Brian S. Peterson
Construction of the trail is to begin this spring at the earliest, according to the EAW, and be completed in three years or less.
Long awaited by mountain bikers in these parts, the 12- to 60-inch-wide, natural-surface trail would be built to accommodate beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. For hard-core mountain bikers, the closest such trail was probably in western North Dakota - the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail.
According to the EAW, the proposed Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail would be located in four main recreation units within the CCSRA - The Sagamore, Mahnomen, Portsmouth and Yawkey units.
Extreme mountain bikers will appreciate the Yawkey Unit, which will include up to 8 miles of very difficult (black diamond) and 2 miles of extremely difficult (double black diamond) trails. Features will include boulders, earthen mounds, timber structures and other physical challenges, with grades of more than 20 percent, according to the EAW.
For those looking for an easier ride, the Sagamore Unit will include up to 1.5 miles and the Mahnomen Unit up to 6 miles of easiest- and easy-rated trails. The Mahnomen Unit will be the longest stretch - 24 miles.
Approximately 22.7 acres of wooded/forest area would be disturbed - graded or excavated - to create the trail, and the project area will be adjacent to seven lakes. But only a small portion of wetlands falls within the project area. The EAW attempts to identify fish and wildlife resources and habitat on or near the site and how they would be affected by the project, taking any measures to minimize or avoid impacts on those area.
Trails will be routed within 50 feet of the shoreline of lakes to take advantage of the natural and visual features, and depending on final alignment, the trails may be constructed within the shoreland zoning district of several bodies of water. But all new construction would comply with applicable standards, the EAW said.
Written comments on the EAW must be submitted to the attention of Matthew Langan, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4025. Electronic or e-mail comments may be sent to environmental.review@ dnr.state.mn.us with "Cuyuna EAW" in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include your name and mailing address. Written comments also may be faxed to (651) 297-1500.
A copy of the EAW is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/ environmentalreview/cuyuna/index.html. Additional copies may be requested by calling (651) 259-5115.
A copy of the EAW also is available for public review at several local libraries:
Ironton Public Library, 309 Third St., Ironton.
Brainerd Public Library, 416 S. Fifth St., Brainerd.
Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library, 101 First St. SE, Crosby.
Kitchigami Regional Library, 212 Park Ave., Pine River.
BRIAN S. PETERSON, outdoors editor, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5864.
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