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Goodhue County, DNR to extend Cannon Valley Trail

RED WING — The Cannon Valley Trail that connects Red Wing to Cannon Falls will soon receive a significant expansion.

Thanks to a joint land acquisition by Goodhue County and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the 20-mile trail will be extended through Cannon Falls to Lake Byllesby Park, which is just west of Cannon Falls. When the bridge over the Cannon River is completed in the summer of 2014, the trail will also provide access to Dakota County's recreational area.

The new trail section will continue to parallel the Cannon River.

"It's going to be a beautiful trail once that gets built," said Public Works Director Greg Isakson said during Tuesday's Goodhue County Board meeting. "The beauty of it is you'll be able to go from Red Wing all the way to the Dakota County park."

However, questions remain about how land adjacent to the trail will be developed to take advantage of increased use.


Goodhue County recently purchased 26 acres of farmland for $250,000 from a farmer who refused to sell a portion of his land to the DNR for the trail extension. During Tuesday's board meeting, the commissioners approved the release of a request for proposal in hopes of adding entertainment options to the area. The language was left open to allow for creative proposals, but some items the board has discussed include campgrounds, a bandshell, athletic fields and various other things.

The existing park, which is free, includes a fishing dock, boat launch, a swimming area and three picnic shelters, among other things.

"It's an entity for young families who can't afford (to go to) Lake of the Woods or Mille Lacs," board chairman Dan Rechtzigel said. "I want to preserve that, (but) we don't want a strip club there."

Isakson said he's already heard from one man interested in developing a campground. However, the county intends to advertise at the local, state and national level in hopes of drumming up other options.

An informational meeting is tentatively planned for early December to answer questions from interested parties. A deadline for proposals was tentatively set for Jan. 31, 2014.

"We're trying to do this exactly right, and time is on our side," commissioner Jim Bryant said.

Dakota County's construction on the new bridge and dam renovation at Lake Byllesby isn't expected to be done until fall 2014. Goodhue County's 40 percent ownership of the bridge was sold in 2012 for $1 in order to avoid paying a portion of the roughly $7 million construction project; Dakota County now receives all the financial benefit of electricity generated by the dam.

In a separate agenda item, the Goodhue County Board voted to disband the Byllesby Advisory Committee that was operating in conjunction with Dakota County.

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