Snowmobile trail at Lake Rebecca expected to be closed for season
By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Three Rivers Park District has worked to reduce the impact of a natural gas pipeline project that will run through the Delano area and Lake Rebecca Park Reserve.
Northern Natural Gas Company (NNG) has begun an expansion of its natural gas pipeline that intersects Lake Rebecca Park Reserve in western Hennepin County, according to a Three Rivers Park District news release.
The expansion involves the abandonment of one current pipeline and the construction of a new, larger pipeline.
“The project in the Delano area is just a sliver of a larger plan in which NNG will replace about 22 miles of three-and four-inch line with 27 miles of 16-inch pipe,” according to the City of Delano.
NNG has owned and operated pipelines in the Lake Rebecca Park Reserve and adjoining area since the 1960s. Federal approval for the gas pipeline was not in contention, but Three Rivers Parks was able to work with NNG to re-route the work zone to minimize the impact on the park trees and environment, according to Three Rivers Park District.
The gas line roughly parallels Wright County Road 50 from the southwest corner of the park near the intersection of Hennepin County Road 11 and continues to East Lake Rebecca Road, according to the news release.
The new agreement allows NNG to extend the pipeline north along East Lake Rebecca Road and then east, parallel to the Soo Line Railroad, to Hennepin County Road 92.
The pipeline construction will require the removal of all trees in the 4.25-mile corridor that is approximately 30 yards wide.
Tree removal began Nov. 18, and is expected to take approximately two weeks to complete.
“The loss of trees is unfortunate, but we worked closely with Northern Natural Gas to minimize the environmental impact, keeping the total loss to about two percent of the trees in the park” said John Barten, Director of Natural Resources Management for Three Rivers Park District.
NNG’s original preferred route would have taken the pipeline project on a more direct route through the heart of the park and would have crossed through Lake Rebecca’s forest sanctuary, including an area that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has classified as having statewide significance for biological diversity, according to Barten.
“We appreciate the fact that they were willing to take a less direct route through the park and allow us to protect more critical habitat,” Barten said.
Grading of the pipeline corridor is scheduled for early December. Because the pipeline corridor intersects the horse trail and the hiking and biking trail at several points, these trails will be impacted by the use of heavy equipment.
For safety reasons, park guests should expect temporary closures along these trails during construction.
Compensation from NNG for the route through the park is being negotiated and will be used toward reforestation of the pipeline route.
Anticipated Lake Rebecca trail closures
Three Rivers Park District asks that visitors observe all posted signs. Anticipated closures include:
• Horse trail the portion of the horse trail east of East Lake Rebecca Road paralleling the railroad tracks to Hennepin County Road 92 and the portion of the horse trail going west from the horse trailer parking lot and south to Hennepin County Road 11 will be closed until late spring or summer 2010.
The designated winter horse trail is expected to remain open.
• Snowmobile trail closed for the 2009-10 season.
• Hiking and biking trails will experience intermittent temporary closures.
For more information
Northern Natural Gas is based in Omaha, NE, and operates an interstate natural gas pipeline extending from the Permian Basin in Texas to the Upper Midwest. The system includes 15,141 miles of natural gas pipeline.
For more information on this project, visit www.northernnaturalgas.com/expansionprojects. Click on “Northern Lights 09-10 CP-0911” under the “Projects” heading. One may also call 888-367-6671.
Copies of NNG’s application for this portion of the project are also available at the Delano Library, Watertown Library, and the Rockford Library.