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County Board votes 4-1 to clear horse path on Luce Line Trail

The McLeod County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 July 5 to clear the horse trail that parallels the Luce Line recreational trail, with Commissioner Ron Shimanski expressing a strong dissenting opinion as he cast the only negative vote.
The commissioners met Wednesday, July 5, because the Independence Day holiday fell on its usual meeting date.
According to members of the county’s trails committee, the issue of overgrowth of the horse trail along the Luce Line has become a sticky subject. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which owns the trail and is supposed to maintain it, says it does not currently have the resources to do so, according to Commissioner Paul Wright.
Shimanski said his opinion opposing the county devoting an employee and machinery to clear the trail has its roots in the county’s $500,000 donation toward the trail a few years ago.
“The DNR has much deeper pockets than we do,” said Shimanski. “The DNR has to set its priorities. I don’t think it’s McLeod County’s job to fix the DNR’s mistakes.”
Shimanski said he does have sympathy for horse riders who feel the trail is not usable, but reiterated that it is the DNR’s responsible, not the county’s.
Commissioner Doug Krueger, who sits on the trails committee, said he was “somewhat torn” on the issue, acknowledging that Shimanski had some points.
However, said Krueger, the issue had lengthy discussion at a recent meeting and he felt the county’s offer to clear the brush “seemed to be a compromise.”
Shimanski asked if the DNR would be reimbursing the county for its work, and was told that it would not.
Krueger indicated that he felt that clearing the horse trail, which is estimated to take 40 to 60 hours of manpower, and cost up to $6,000, would be on a trial basis.
“My caveat is that we document the condition of that trail now and see how it goes,” said Krueger. “And see if horses use it more.”
Krueger said that documentation should be sent to the DNR and local state legislators.

Read the full article in the July 12 print edition of The Chronicle.