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Beltrami County Board: Commissioners updated on parks improvements

Beltrami County parks are in the process of major improvements.

John Winter, county recreation resource manager, Tuesday presented the Beltrami County Board with a list of recent accomplishments and plans for the next few months, according to the outline from the 2008 Recreational Facilities and Trails Plan.

He said funding for all projects is through grants or the regular 2009 budget allocations.

He displayed a photo of Rognlien Park taken July 4. The scores of picnickers, campers and beach enthusiasts celebrating the national holiday at the park indicated the success of recent improvements.

He described the success of the campground host program at Rognlien Park.

"Frankly, the host site is the nicest host site in the in Minnesota," he said.

The site features water, bathroom, electricity and Internet access. It is popular enough that potential hosts compete to park their RVs there and maintain the park. One host voted his commitment to the park by donating 20 garbage cans.

Improvements this year will be new 1,000-gallon vault toilets built for $4,000 each, as compared to the $12,000 for DNR latrines, Winter said. The savings comes from building the facilities locally using local materials.

"We're trying to save every dollar because we don't have many dollars," he said.

Some of the savings comes from the volunteer donations of time and money from groups that use the parks and trails. For example, he said the North Country Snowmobile Club put in 10,500 hours grooming trails this winter and donated $20,000 toward trail improvements. The Bemidji Area Cross Country Ski Club also grooms trails for skiers.

Improvements at Three Island Park include a fish ladder made from a cascade of granite boulders at the outlet dam from Three Island Lake into Turtle River. The ladder gives walleye access up and down stream over the dam and was paid for by the Minnesota DNR.

This summer, Winter said a bridge will be built across Turtle River at the dam site. There will also be a new picnic shelter at the site. Archeology exploration is currently underway in preparation for construction.

The Beltrami County Shooting Sports Park will cost $1.8 million for the first phase, Winter said, but like the ski and snowmobile clubs, he said he plans to have the groups that will use the park help pay for and maintain it.

"It's their project, not the county's project," he said.

"This is a work in progress that's just going to serve the public very well and serve as a model," said Commissioner Joe Vene.

"Our success might spread in northern Minnesota," said Winter. "There is a lot going on here, and this is where people come from the Twin Cities to recreate."