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Why not recognize trails as assets?

To the Editor:
Another anti-trail letter and more distortions and misinformation. Yes, as stated in a letter to The Chronicle (“Luce Line is already cracking up,” March 15 Chronicle), there are a few areas on the Luce Line where cracks have developed. After riding the trail recently from County Road 115 to the Carver County line east of Winsted, I saw perhaps 350 feet worth of cracks. Some are cross cracks, but most run down the center of the trail. Not bad, though, when you consider that over the course of the trail’s 19 miles this equates to about one-third of 1 percent of the lineal trail footage. In other words over 99 percent is just fine.
Furthermore, maintenance on the Luce Line is the responsibility of the DNR, so there is no need to worry about raising county taxes for this work. Will more cracks develop and other maintenance be needed over time? Sure, but that is no different than maintaining roads, buildings, parks and equipment. However, based on the experience of other trails, yearly maintenance is not a big expense.
It’s funny to hear a farmer say that he doesn’t see many people on the trail when he is out in the fields, because I don’t often see farmers in the fields when I’m on the trail. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe they are out there during the season.  In reality, there is no doubt that trail usage has increased because paving has allowed more people to enjoy the trail in a greater variety of ways. When I am on the trail I see people of all ages using the trail across the county. I see walkers, bicyclists, runners, runners accompanied by bicyclists, people walking their dogs, families with small children on bikes, parents pushing strollers, runners pushing strollers, handicapped users, in-line skaters, skateboarders, and signs of snowmobile and horseback use. Many could not have enjoyed the trail before it was paved.
So instead of continually looking for problems with the trail, like standing water during one of the wettest years on record, or trail counts when weather and abnormally high mosquitoes certainly impacted use, why not recognize the trail as the unique county and regional asset that it is? Trails provide recreational and exercise opportunities, get people out in nature, provide transportation options, connect communities and destinations, increase safety by getting users off roads and bring visitors to our county and cities. In a sense, trails are like linear parks and they benefit township residents just as much as city residents. Trails are highly sought after amenities across the state and McLeod County is fortunate to have two of these assets in our midst. Improving them so more people can enjoy them only makes sense.
Finally, to those who continue to complain, instead of wasting so much energy opposing the trail and trying to convince others with distorted and inaccurate information, why not get out and enjoy it? If you think things can be better, why not volunteer to work with the DNR to help make improvements like others are doing? You just might come to appreciate the trail more and start encouraging others to enjoy it, too.
Steve Cook