LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Good news for North Country Trail
In mid-March, with bipartisan support, the federal John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act became public law. The bill summary states that it "sets forth provisions regarding various programs, projects, activities, and s...
In mid-March, with bipartisan support, the federal John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act became public law. The bill summary states that it “sets forth provisions regarding various programs, projects, activities, and studies for the management and conservation of natural resources on federal lands.”
Included in the act was a route adjustment first proposed over 25 years ago. That adjustment is comprised of two goals: First, change the official route of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST), in northeast Minnesota -- nicknamed the Arrowhead Reroute -- moving it to a more scenic and sustainable location by way of the Superior Hiking Trail along Lake Superior, the Border Route Trail and the Kekekabic Trail, both in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Second, extend the eastern terminus of the NCNST to meet the Long Trail in Vermont, which then connects with the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
In central Minnesota, the North Country Trail runs through the Tamarac Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes, the south entrance of Itasca State Park, crosses Hubbard Co. Highway 4 about three miles south of Lake George; crosses State Highway 64 about four miles north of Akeley; crosses State Highway 34 at the Shingobee Recreation area of the Chippewa National Forest; crosses Highway 371 five miles south of Walker; crosses the Boy River on State Highway 200, and crosses State Highway 6 four miles northeast of Remer.
Both the Minnesota and the Vermont changes will help fulfill the original vision of the National Trails System, creating a stronger network of trail throughout our country and protecting more trail for public use and better maintenance. While the National Park Service -- federal administrator of the NCNST -- had desired these changes to the route of the trail, and the proposals had strong local support, congressional approval is required for any significant adjustments from the original route as it was described in the designation of the Trail in 1980.
This particular bill was introduced in the Senate in January, where it passed with a vote of 92-8. At the end of February, it passed the House with a vote of 363-62.
The North Country Trail Association and National Park Service are excited to begin working with many new friends and partners, as well as the many communities along the route. They are all stewards of existing trails that will now be considered the official route of the NCT, and they will be instrumental in our efforts to develop the new trail needed to close the gaps.
Carter Hedeen , Park Rapids. Hedeen is a member of the Itasca Moraine Chapter of the North Country Trail Association.