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The Lee County Conservation Board parking lot was full Tuesday as about 20 southeast Iowa residents turned up to participate in the first of what will be many planning sessions for county trails and routes within three counties.

The goal is to plan and eventually create routes that connect Lee County, Clark County, Missouri, and Hancock County, Illinois, communities along the Mississippi River Trail — a designated bicycle and pedestrian trail that spans the shores of the Mississippi River from Minnesota down to Louisiana. Much of the trail shares or follows roadways used by motor vehicles, but communities can change that by creating their own routes that not only are more pedestrian-friendly, but also bring trail users into towns and near local businesses.

There to guide residents through the trail planning process was Brian Leaders, a landscape architect with the National Parks Service’s Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program for the Midwest region. Among the program’s goals is to help communities find new routes along the MRT.

The Lee County Conservation Board applied for the program about 10 months ago at the suggestion of Keokuk Chamber of Commerce Director Shelley Oltmans.


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