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Public input helps shape trail route

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It was another good turnout at the second round of public informational meetings about a proposed recreational trail between Perham and Pelican Rapids.

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The meetings, held last week, featured presentations by project engineers from SRF Consulting Group, as well as question-and-answer sessions with county leaders.

The first round of public meetings about the trail took place in late December.

Similar to the first meeting, about 40 people showed up to this second discussion in Perham, with no one voicing opposition to the project.

“It was a very good meeting,” said Perham’s Economic Development Director, Chuck Johnson, who attended. “Both audiences (in Perham and Pelican Rapids) had a lot of people, and most... had a definite, positive interest in the project. I think there was enthusiasm from people.”

The main purpose of the meetings has been to share recommended routes for the trail and garner feedback on those routes.

By the time of these most recent, second-round meetings, a trail had been all but finalized based on the recommendations of the engineers and public input gathered at previous meetings.

As it stands, the proposed route, from west to east, starts in Pelican Rapids going south on State Highway 59, then east to County Highway 3 into Maplewood State Park. From there, the route would go through the park, exiting east and traveling along rural roads until meeting with County Highways 35 and 34 into Perham.

County Engineer Rick West has said a total rebuild of County Highway 34 is likely in the not too distant future, and could be reconstructed to fully accommodate this trail.

A previously proposed idea to travel into Perham via Fort Thunder Road, versus Highway 34, was decided against due to high traffic volume and Highway 34’s close proximity to other recreational trails that already exist in Perham, which could be easily connected to this new trail.

Johnson stressed that this “is a long-term project, and it’ll probably be constructed in segments” as funding becomes available, which could take years.

There is no timeline for construction at this point.

Johnson said project engineers are excited about the aesthetics of the trail, saying some areas provided attractive views – “some very visual vistas.”

“It’s going to be a nice trail,” said Johnson.

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Marie Johnson
Marie Johnson (formerly Nitke) came to the Perham Focus after several years as the Education and Arts & Entertainment Editor at the Herald-Review of Grand Rapids, Minn. She lives in rural Ottertail with her husband, Dan, and their spunky yellow lab, Louisa.
(218) 346-5900 x228
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