West Central Initiative has been involved in the development of trails in west central Minnesota for over 20 years. Over this time period, we’ve seen a wide variety of projects discussed.

The Perham to Pelican Rapids Trail has been highlighted as an example of a project that has followed an exemplary and robust public engagement and planning process. There have been numerous meetings over the past several years where residents and other stakeholders have had opportunities to provide input into the trail planning process.

The benefits of trail development have been well-documented across the country, and specifically in a 2016 Minnesota study “Assessing the Economic Impact and Health Effects of Bicycling in Minnesota.” These benefits include increased economic development, better health for residents, additional transportation options, as well as increases in tourism and recreational opportunities. Battle Lake can be used as a local example: several new businesses have opened and Glendalough State Park has seen record levels of visitors following the development of the trails in that area.

As the Perham to Pelican Rapids Trail is developed, the communities it connects will begin to see these benefits. This is an exciting project that will serve as a vital connection in the statewide trail network, and will enhance our region and Minnesota’s reputation as a great place to live, work and recreate.

Wayne T. Hurley

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Director of Planning, West Central Initiative

Fergus Falls