Most of them are in or near Crookston

    Although the $1 million-plus grant to put an RV park in Crookston’s Central Park awarded by the State of Minnesota earlier this year has garnered the most headlines, approximately $200,000 in state grant dollars awarded in 2017 to Crookston and other cities, counties and agencies belonging to the Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement Group are set to be invested this fall along the river, mostly in and around Crookston.

    Counties, watershed districts and cities along the Red Lake River including Crookston, East Grand Forks, Red Lake Falls and Thief River Falls have belonged to a corridor enhancement group joint powers board for many years. But Crookston has taken the lead over the past couple of years in seeking the largest-scale and most costly corridor enhancement projects because it was more ready than the rest of the group members to submit grant proposals.

    The 2017 grant of approximately $200,000 from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission, and approved by the Minnesota DNR and the legislature, will fund 10 enhancement projects along the Red Lake River, City Administrator Shannon Stassen tells the Times. The largest is improved canoe/kayak access at the Gentilly Bridge, he says. Canoe/kayak access will also be enhanced just east of Crookston at the intersection of Highways 2 and 9. Both access points are considered extremely primitive and even a bit challenging and unsafe. Although they will still be considered primitive after the improvements are complete, they will be easier for people to use, Stassen notes.

    In Crookston, existing amenities and accesses to the river will be improved, such as floating piers and a new portage route. Stassen says the $200,000 also includes money for new and improved signage along the river, pointing enthusiasts toward various amenities and features.

    Other projects included in the $200,000 grant are slated for Thief River Falls (3) and one each in St. Hilaire and Red Lake Falls.

    The corridor enhancement group has signed the contracts with the Minnesota DNR for the work to commence this fall. Given the larger scope of the project on the river at the Gentilly Bridge, Stassen says there are still some final details being worked out with Polk County and the DNR.