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Familiar territory: Lester Prairie trail project fails to get funding
Dec. 29, 2014

By Ivan Raconteur

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – Trail enthusiasts who had been hoping that the 2.1-mile portion of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail between Carver County and McLeod County Road 1 would receive funding in 2015 will be disappointed once again.

The McLeod County Rail Authority, which owns the portion of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail in McLeod County, has applied for grants to develop the trail five times without success.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced the grants that will be funded for fiscal year 2015 under the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant Program.

The $682,000 Lester Prairie grant application was among applications from 51 local units of government across Minnesota.

The DNR received requests for $27 million in funding. Of this, only $3.9 million will receive funding.

The nearest project to receive funding is the Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park in Wright County, which will receive $1 million toward acquisition of an additional 50 acres. This was the highest amount approved in the most recent round of grants.

Other projects that received funding include:

• the City of Rochester; $400,000 for a trail link to the Chester Woods State Trail.

• Stearns County; $250,000 to construct 3.2 miles of the Lake Wobegon Trail.

• Lyon County; $910,880 to construct 2.4 miles of the Camden Regional Trail.

• City of Duluth; $600,000 to develop Hartley Park.

• City of Cambridge; $150,000 to develop a fishing pier, picnic shelters, and more at the city park and nature center.

• City of Morris; $119,000 to develop and improve Pomme de Terre Park.

• City of Chisago City; $25,000 for campground improvements at Ojiketa Regional Park.

• City of St. Cloud; $400,000 for acquisition of an additional 16.2 acres for River Bluffs Regional Park.

• Murray County, $60,000 for improvements at Seven Mile Lake Park.

The recent announcement is likely to make the job even more difficult for the Lester Prairie Trail Task Force.

The seven-member group was formed in October.

Lester Prairie Mayor Andy Heimerl said his goal is to see the trail developed to the west side of the city, at least as far as McLeod County Road 1, so all city residents will have access to it.

The trail task force will need to decide how to proceed in view of the most recent grant application results.

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