Thanks to local clubs, North Shore snowmobile trails to see improvementsTrail crews hustled to replace bridges this past week and into the weekend to get North Shore snowmobile trails repaired in time for snowmobiling this winter.
By: Sam Cook, Lake County News Chronicle
Trail crews hustled to replace bridges this past week and into the weekend to get North Shore snowmobile trails repaired in time for snowmobiling this winter.
Many bridges and culverts that washed out or suffered damage as a result of June flooding were repaired during the summer and fall. A snowmobile bridge over the Knife River, part of the Voyageur Snowmobile Club trails, was repaired on Thursday. A bridge over a creek near Superior Shores Resort was scheduled for repair on Saturday.
“It’s snowing, and snowmobilers are revving up,” said Nate Eide, Lake County land manager in Two Harbors . “We want to get them done. I think we’re going to make it.”
June rains washed some bridges off their pilings, pushing one downstream a quarter of a mile, said Joe Russell, area parks and trails supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Two Harbors . After the DNR assessed all the damage, crews from various agencies and contractors went to work, Russell said.
“We wanted to go into winter in full operation,” Russell said. “We didn’t want any sections of the trail to be closed.”
Having any sections of closed trail could have compromised three events occurring in late January or early February: the Black Woods Blizzard Tour for ALS, the Northland 300 Ride for Special Olympics and the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.
Much of the repair work was done with money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some of the work was done on the C.J. Ramstad North Shore State Trail, and much was done on trails managed and maintained by local snowmobile clubs such as the Voyageur Snowmobile Club in Two Harbors.
Work was done by DNR crews, Lake County Forestry and Highway Department crews, private contractors, snowmobile clubs and the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, Eide said.
Russell said the cooperation between all parties in the repair effort was excellent.
“We did great. The contractors did an excellent job. And we had the fortune of a fairly dry period from August to October,” Russell said.
A representative from FEMA was assigned to deal with all of that trail work, and Russell was pleased with FEMA’s role.
“It was a great response,” he said. “There was excellent collaboration with us. They’re very responsive.”
Members of the Voyageur Snowmobile Club, as well as the Silver Trail Riders in Silver Bay, also made significant contributions. Club snowmobile trails are important because they allow riders access to and from the C.J. Ramstad North Shore State Trail.
“The club guys have been great,” Eide said. “They’re hard workers, and they’re putting in more time than they’re used to.”
As of Thursday, about 4 to 6 inches of snow covered trails, not quite enough for good riding, Eide said. All trails are open, the DNR’s Russell said, although areas requiring caution around ongoing repairs are marked with warning signs, he said.
For updates on club trails in the Two Harbors area, go to www.voyageursnowmobileclub.com.