Conservation board lists priorities for trails

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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


Trail development was on the minds of the Elkader City Council members who recently asked two people closely connected with trails to share their priorities.

Gary Kregel, Chairman of the Clayton County Conservation Board (CCCB), and Jenna Pollock, CCCB Director, listed Motor Mill and Pony Hollow Trails as the group’s main concerns. The former involves a two-mile stretch along Highway 13 from the edge of Elkader to Grandview Road. The latter will create a “looped system” connecting the current trail with the town.

“Pony Hollow currently exists as a 4-mile ‘out and back’ trail system with a few brave souls taking the shoulder along Highway 13 to get back into Elkader,” Pollock said. “There are a few alternatives to loop back into the city on the north end and those are being considered as part of a grant application.”

Pony Hollow is the widest trail maintained by CCCB. It’s 8-feet wide with 2-foot shoulders on either side of its lime chip surface. The trail, which is maintained weekly during the spring, summer and fall months, is used by as many as 260 people a day, according to regular trail counts.

Work on the long-awaited trail from Turkey River Park on the edge of Elkader to Motor Mill is scheduled to begin this fall. The Iowa Department of Transportation, who will be working on the shoulders of Highway 13, is a partner in the project. 

“This is the Conservation Board’s highest priority because these dollars have been secured and need to be spent in a timely way,” said Pollock, adding that CCCB is making good progress on paperwork for permit use and reimbursement processes. “The trail will also connect two of the board’s properties, encouraging alternative transportation between Turkey River Park and Motor Mill Historic Site by land and water trails.”

When completed, the Motor Mill Trail will include a 2-mile, 6-foot wide paved bike lane stretching south along Highway 13 from Turkey River Park on the edge of Elkader to Grandview Road. The trail will continue along Grandview to Galaxy Road; Galaxy will lead trail users into Motor Mill.

Future plans still call for a trail between Elkader and Elgin. In fact, the City of Elkader has secured funding for the preliminary engineering of the route. Those funds will be available in fiscal year 2020.

“In the meantime,” said Pollock, “the Conservation Board is focusing their efforts on trail segments that connect existing amenities like parks, other trails to communities to other amenities, particularly if there is an opportunity to partner with a larger road project.”

A number of other trail projects are slated for Clayton County. Monona has received Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) funds for a trail and  park improvements, and McGregor and Marquette also have trail expansion projects in the works.

At the end of the meeting, the Elkader City Council voted to keep $3,000 for trail development in the city budget. 

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