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DNR invites public input on Heartland State Trail extension master plan at upcoming open houses

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites anyone with an interest in the extension of the Heartland State Trail from Park Rapids to Moorhead to attend one of three open houses. The meetings will provide an opportunity to review and comment on the draft master plan for the Heartland State Trail extension.

DNR staff and volunteers working on the trail-planning effort will discuss the draft master plan, display maps and other trail information, and answer questions about the issues involved in moving toward trail development.

The open houses are scheduled for:

* Wednesday, Oct. 27, 5-8 p.m. at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, 900 Hwy. 34, Detroit Lakes.

* Thursday, Oct. 28, 5-8 p.m., Northwoods Bank, 1200 E. First Street, Park Rapids.

* Thursday, Nov. 4, 4:30-7:30 p.m., Metro COG, Case Plaza, Suite 232, One N. Second Street, Fargo.

The Heartland State Trail is one of Minnesota's oldest and most popular rail trails, running 49 miles between Park Rapids and Cass Lake. Most of the trail is paved and level, providing a scenic route for hikers, bikers, and in-line skaters of all ages and abilities. There is a grassy treadway for horseback riding and mountain biking between Park Rapids and Walker, and the entire trail is groomed for snowmobiling in the winter.

The Heartland Trail extension will ultimately link the western end of the trail at Park Rapids to the city of Moorhead, a distance of approximately 85 to 100 miles, depending on the selected route. The intent of this plan is to connect the communities of Park Rapids, Wolf Lake, Frazee, Detroit Lakes, Lake Park, Hawley, Glyndon, Dilworth and Moorhead, as well as the Smoky Hills State Forest, Buffalo River State Park and other natural and recreational resources within the trail corridor.

Planning for the trail began in 2008 with a series of meetings to gather public input. The master plan must be completed and approved before any funds can be used for trail construction. The specific route for the trail has not yet been determined, and no segments are yet in state ownership.

For more information, contact:

* Suzanne Rhees, parks and trails planner, or 651-259-5586.

* John Steward, acquisition and development coordinator, or 218-308-2369.

* Tony Walzer, acquisition and development specialist, or 218-308-2379.