River access points to be improved and signage will be added; RV campground in Central Park not funded this time around

    Red Lake River Corridor enhancement efforts in and around Crookston will be enhanced to the tune of $200,786, after the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks & Trails Commission on Thursday announced grant awards in its latest funding cycle.

    The GMRPTC-funded projects will go to the Minnesota Legislature as a recommendation for funding in 2018, City Administrator Shannon Stassen says.

    While the biggest piece of the Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement Group’s request pie, a new RV campground and bath house in Crookston’s Central, was not funded this time around, Stassen said the $200,000 that will be invested in improvements at Red Lake River canoe access points in and outside of Crookston and new signage for river and trail enthusiasts a “big first step forward.”

    Six cities, three counties and two watershed districts make up the Red Lake River Corridor Joint Powers Board. Everyone on the board previously agreed that the City of Crookston was best positioned to be the first community to seek significant funding from the GMRPTC.

    Crookston’s proposal that’s being recommended by the GMRPTC for funding includes various enhancements of existing amenities and accesses along the Red Lake River in town, such as floating piers and a new portage route, as well as improvements of the canoe access points on the river on Highways 2 and 9 east of town, and at the Gentilly Bridge. The enhancements at the canoe drop-in points won’t be especially elaborate in nature and both access points would remain “primitive,” but the thinking is that they are a bit treacherous and even unsafe, and that if they were made easier for casual canoeists to use, more people would use them.

    While the RV campground in Central Park did not receive funding this time around, Stassen noted that the GMRPTC, which has floated the vibe that it’s targeting northwest Minnesota for some river and trail enhancement, commented on the strength of the application and master plan for the Red Lake River Corridor Water Trail.

    “Increasing and improving access points and adding signage are the first steps in creating a huge economic development impact across the region by expanding tourism and enhancing quality of life to attract new residents,” Stassen told the Times in an email. “This project also encourages outdoor activity by making access available to more of the population and creating equitable, healthy options for people.”

    He made a point to thank Linda Kingery from the Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership and Kate Svitavsky, summer graduate intern from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Humphrey School of Public Affairs for their assistance on putting the grant application together.