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  • Wed August 29 2007
  • Posted Aug 29, 2007
Regional economic development leaders envision a network of recreational trails stretching along the Missouri River, offering a variety of activities and drawing tourists. A master plan is still a year away, but local officials already are excited about the possibility of linking trails and communities from South Sioux City to Pickstown, S.D. "Anytime you can tie communities together, it's beneficial," said Barbara Sloniker, Siouxland Chamber of Commerce vice president of government relations and transportation. Last week, the chamber's transportation committee met with Mary Hanson, an outdoor recreation planner from the National Park Service office in Omaha. The Park Service, through its Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance division, is helping planners compile a list of existing trails. After a master plan is completed, the Park Service will provide information to local entities interested in developing new or existing trails. "We're looking at how can we provide recreational activities, namely trails, throughout this region," Hanson said. "Is there a way that eventually we can create some links?" Many cities along the 60- to 70-mile stretch of river designated as the Missouri National Recreational River currently have trails. By linking them with signs and maps, visitors to, say, Lewis and Clark Lake near Yankton, S.D., could quickly find a nearby bicycling route or a place to drop their canoes into the water. "We're not just looking one-dimensional here," said Greg Henderson, director of Planning & Development District III, a regional planning agency in Yankton. The master plan might not suggest a single trail running the length of the river. Instead, it could feature all the trail activities available in the region, Henderson said. Communities seeking grant money to build or enhance trails can improve their chances of securing funding by showing their project is part of a larger network. After the master plan is completed, it would be up to individual communities and groups to develop plans for new trails, and most of the funding would be up to each community. Henderson's office and the National Park Service would help provide guidance for trail design. Changes won't happen overnight, Henderson said, but an active plan could lead to trail development. "We might be talking a 20-year process here," he said. Nick Hytrek can be reached at 712-293-4226 or nickhytrek@siouxcityjournal.com. To learn more about the Missouri River Corridor and regional trail planning, visit the Planning & Development District III Web site at www.districtiii.org.

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