"The five counties that would get the trail and all of us kind of pooled together and needed to see what we needed to do. So we made an appointment with a conservation group of Guthrie County. We met with him and got his expertise on how they made things work," explains Fueston.
Meeting with people and groups to get more information was one of the first steps Fueston emphasized that the Iowa Great Lakes Trail Association took. Now the five counties of Buena Vista, Clay, Sac, Carroll, and Dickinson have a preliminary plan and will meet with the Department of Transportation at the end of the month.
Dakin Schultz, DOT representative from Sioux City, says ,"Trail success relies on the locals to be champions of the trail concept- to build it and maintain it."
The Iowa Great Lakes Trail is one of the five proposed trail plans from a study in 2000 that showed trails that would have a "state-wide significance."
Currently, trails exist in Dickinson county around the lakes, but do not extend any further to lakes in other counties such as Storm Lake, Black Hawk Lake, and Swan Lake. The Iowa Great Lakes Trail Plan includes trails linking each of these.
Having the DOT is very important to the association because the committee will be able to do things right the first time around.
"First of all we need to make sure we have the DOT's blessing on this. We need to make sure we have the DOT's involvement so we are doing things accurately. So we put the trail where it actually can be instead of where we think it can be," reports Fueston.
She says for nearly 35 years there has been talk of getting trails leading from Spencer up to the lakes area. Being a ragbrai rider herself she has been involved in that conversation. What fueled her inspiration was the trail that goes from Jefferson to De Moines that she rode last year.
She asked herself, "why couldn't we have a trail that went up to the lakes?"
While looking at a map she noticed in the middle of the state around the capitol there were tons of trails. At Okoboji, a place where "people love to go", there was no reason not to have trails leading there.
As far as a time frame Fueston acknowledges it takes years upon years for a project of this size.
"I know how these things work. I hope I will see the trail completely finished in my lifetime. We have to build excitement and we have to build momentum. Fundraisers won't come to fruition if you don't have excitement for it," explains Fueston.
Original team members in the group include Lynn Schable from Storm Lake, Stacy Bellcock from Sac City, Dr. Frank Greteman from Carroll, another man from Okoboji, and Fueston.
Since the Iowa Lakes Great Trails Association has announced itself Fueston says it has "snowballed" picking up more members and more support as it went along. Now several more group members have stepped forward.
She reports, "They are all good people who had backgrounds in trails, knowledge in trails, and wanted to become part of it."