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North to Itasca: Hubbard County supports new bike trail

A bike path to Itasca would take groups off highways, like last week's Habitat 500 ride through the region. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

A bike trail from Park Rapids to Itasca State Park makes more sense than extending the Heartland Trail to Moorhead.

That was the reasoning of Hubbard County commissioners Wednesday as they voiced universal support of a resolution to extend the Heartland Trail to Itasca at an estimated cost of $4 million.

Although the trail to Moorhead has been in the works for years, acquisition of land through the Smoky Hills has slowed the project.

A trail to Itasca has been envisioned since original plans were drawn in 1979, and when the master plan was revised in 1994, said Hubbard County Land Commissioner Mark Lohmeier. However, it was a lower priority because the Department of Natural Resources was concentrating on the trail from Park Rapids to Moorhead.

"We think this is a viable option," he said, noting the trail's path would run through mostly tax-forfeited lands through Hubbard County.

The resolution gives support to the state to go through the planning process, Lohmeier told the county board.

At roughly $200,000 per mile, the 20-mile trail would cost around $4 million, he estimates.

"It seems more reasonable to go to Itasca than Moorhead," board member Cal Johannsen said. "There'll be a fight over farmland and timber" parcels routing the trail to Moorhead, he noted.

But it's not an either/or choice.

"It will certainly help the tourism (industry) and the Highway Department to get them off the road," commissioner Lyle Robinson noted.

Last week more than 100 cyclists caused some anxious moments on Highway 71 during a fundraising ride for Habitat for Humanity. But no incidents occurred.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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