Hope for the project

The proposed west segment of about 7 miles of the 32-mile Perham to Pelican Rapids Regional Trail would connect Pelican Rapids to Maplewood State Park. An impasse over vehicle emission rules in the state legislature may cause projects not to be completed if the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund money is not authorized.

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A project being proposed for Glendalough State Park may not happen if the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund money is not authorized by the Legislature, because of the ongoing impasse over new vehicle emissions rules.

The urgency is building, because with just a few days left in the state Legislature’s special session, it is possible the funding will not be authorized. Not only would local projects be affected, but funding for dozens of projects around the state would be in jeopardy as well. 

According to Sarah Horner with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy the DNR is proposing to acquire about 155-acres of private land that falls within Glendalough’s boundary. The parcel includes shoreline along Blanche Lake, high quality oak stands and a segment of a major migratory corridor. The DNR has asked for $1 million to acquire the prized parcel, and the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources already approved the project in 2020.  

Also part of the funding request, is another local project with the west segment of the Perham to Pelican Rapids Regional Trail. 

With this particular project, Otter Tail County was approved to receive $2.6 million in Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) funding to complete the proposed west segment of about 7 miles of the 32-mile Perham to Pelican Rapids Regional Trail that would connect Pelican Rapids to Maplewood State Park. 

The LCCMR’s website says the park is a significant destination for residents and visitors alike. Maplewood State Park hosted over 154,000 visitors in 2017 with attendance trends on the rise. There is not currently a safe, non-motorized transportation alternative from Maplewood State Park to any local communities, including Pelican Rapids.

“If the Legislature doesn’t sign off on the Environment and Natural Resources Trust projects by the end of the special session, the projects will lose the funding, and in the case of the Glendalough DNR proposed acquisition, that could force it to be sold to a private developer who does not share the state’s interest of preserving it for public enjoyment.”, said Horner.

The proposed bill would appropriate money from the fund, which is basically derived from state lottery revenue. The Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources has seventeen members, including five Republican and five DFL members. The commission recommends which projects to fund on an annual basis.

This article originally ran on fergusfallsjournal.com.

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