Peter Hark is a resident of rural Northfield, the DNR’s Field Operations Manager State Parks and Trails, and a Founding Supporter of CROCT. He joined me and Marty Larson on his first ride on the Sechler Park MTB trail on Wednesday, a day off for him because it was his birthday. He seemed to enjoy the ride and was complementary on what he saw. For a relatively new mountain biker, he’s not half-bad, and if he got a proper mountain bike with better tires he would definitely be more than marginally adequate.
With my MORC member hat on, I’ve been doing a little advocacy work on issues related to the mountain bike trails along the Bloomington segment of the MN River Bottoms (see my July blog posts here and here). The MN Dept. of Natural Resources is among the land managers there with their Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area.
Last week I noticed that the DNR’s 2014 bonding request includes money to develop a trail down there. See pages 17-18 of this PDF which states:
Develop Key Trails — $10 million.
$10 million is to acquire and develop key segments of state trails and to provide funding to complete segments that only have partial funding. Project priorities include Cuyuna, Gitchi-Gami, Heartland, Paul Bunyan and Minnesota Valley State Trails.
So I had coffee at the GBM on Friday with Peter Hark, almost a Northfielder and Field Operations Manager in the Parks and Trails Division of the MN DNR. I first met Peter back in March at the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota’s Day on the Hill.
Even though Peter’s not directly involved in trail acquisition and development, I wanted to pick his brain to try to get a better understanding of how the funding and planning process for trails works. He did not disappoint.
MORC’s concerns, of course, are that the creation of a new MN River Bottoms trail (likely paved) could jeopardize the natural surface shared-use trails there now that we use for year-round mountain biking.
Side note: One of Peter’s pet projects (my phrase) is the addition of yurts to the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail System. See this April CLMBT blog post for some details. He also told me that there’s a good possibility that next year’s Fat Bike Summit could be held at Cuyuna, in which case, I’d like to make my yurt reservation right now.
Next step: getting Peter to go for a MN River Bottoms trail ride on a fat bike, Real Soon Now. He said he’s willing. Stay tuned.