By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

More than 50 percent of the necessary right of way has been acquired in the Silent Lakes area as part of the Pelican Rapids to Perham recreational trail.

County Engineer Chuck Grotte told county board members on March 9 that 22 of 42 agreements have been signed with property owners. He said it’s likely that 14 other property owners are close to completing agreements, which would bring the total to 36.

“We are working to interact with the property owners as best we can, and negotiate in good faith,” Grotte said.

Those words were especially gratifying to two county commissioners who represent constituents along the proposed route, namely Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids and Dan Bucholz of Perham.

Construction of the east segment of the overall trail, of 6.41 miles, will begin this summer and run from Little McDonald Lake to Perham. This trail section will be close to a reconstructed Highway 34. 

The reason for the construction of this multi-use trail is to provide a multi modal public transportation facility between Perham and Pelican Rapids for pedestrian and bicycle use. The trail will be constructed in accordance with Minnesota statute.

Other sections of the trail include areas near McDonald Lakes (west of Dent) and a route west of Maplewood State Park along Highway 3 to Highway 59 and then north to Pelican Rapids.

The recreational trail, when completed, will be 10 feet wide and 32 miles long.

Much of the $14.2 million needed for construction comes from the state of Minnesota. Included is money from the State Legacy Fund.

In 2008 Minnesota voters passed the Legacy Amendment to the state constitution. The amendment increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of one percent. 

A portion of the legacy funding goes to parks and trails such as the Pelican Rapids to Perham recreational trail. Other legacy funding goes to clean water projects, the outdoor heritage fund (enhancing wetlands and habitats) and arts and cultural heritage fund.

County board members have previously expressed appreciation for the support of county residents and area legislators for their support of the recreational trail.

Earlier this year it was announced by the county board that state bonding money will allow for project planning for the trail inside Maplewood State Park, east of Pelican Rapids. The state grant totals $375,000.

Public input meetings were held around Otter Tail County in previous months. The county board also has support for the trail from the cities of Pelican Rapids and Perham as well as organizations such as West Central Initiative and PartnerSHIP4Health.