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Advocacy Alert: Support the Gooseberry Gap Project

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Advocacy Alert: Support the Gooseberry Gap Project

February 4, 2021

The Superior Hiking Trail Association needs your help to close the Gooseberry Gap! The SHTA is preparing to move forward with this important 2021 trail improvement project, and you have the power to make it happen.

The SHTA has been working for years to find a solution to the “Gooseberry Gap,” and we are now at the final step — gaining approval by the Lake County Planning Commission. The Commission tabled our request at the January 25th meeting and will be making a final determination on the SHTA’s Conditional Use Permit application for the Gooseberry Gap project on February 22nd.

This is where we need your help. As a user and supporter of the Superior Hiking Trail, your voice matters. It would be tremendously helpful if you would submit comments in support of the project by email to the address below. Some adjacent landowners have pushed back on the planned reroute, even though the Trail will be located entirely on State and County lands. Your comments will help ensure the Commission understands the importance of this project and the value that the Trail provides to Lake County residents and visitors.

If you are a Lake County resident, or you own property or operate a business in Lake County, please indicate this in your comments to the commission. Lake County residents are also welcome to attend the virtual hearing and participate in the public comment period; dial-in details may be requested when you submit your comments by email.

 

Please submit your comments by February 15, 2021 via email to: [email protected]

*Written comments can also be dropped off at the Lake County Courthouse, in the box outside the Law Enforcement center. Attention — Planning & Zoning

Here are the key messages to the Lake County Planning Commission:

  • The Superior Hiking Trail is not separate from, but an integral part of Lake County. The Trail has been an important resource for the County for 35 years. It adds to the quality of life for residents, attracts a workforce who values outdoor recreation opportunities, and compliments the tourism economy of Lake County. Our valuable role in recreation is clearly outlined in the Lake County Comprehensive Trails Plan.
  • This is a very important, high-priority project for the SHTA. While we appreciate the value of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail, having SHT users shunted onto roads and a paved, multi-use path is not a great hiking trail experience. There are inherent dangers with roadwalks and highway crossings that we can eliminate with a separated route. The SHTA’s mission is to build, maintain, and manage a natural-surface footpath through the woods, and this reroute restores such a path.  
  • $60,000 of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) grant funds are at stake. This project needs to move forward this year or else we may lose these funds. As required by the grant, the SHTA has secured a full one-to-one match from our dedicated supporters to fund the project.
  • The Association has done due diligence on this project. The SHTA has spent time and money and engaged both ecological and trail experts to identify this sustainable, enjoyable, and cost-effective route on public land. This is the most comprehensive alignment study completed on behalf of the SHTA to-date.
  • Without this reroute, we can’t honestly say the SHT is a “continuous trail” from Ontario to the Minnesota-Wisconsin state line — which we can say when this “Gooseberry Gap” is closed. 

About the Gooseberry Gap Project:

Since 2015, a 2.5-mile portion of the Superior Hiking Trail has been temporarily detoured onto a roadwalk (Blueberry Hill Road) and the paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail along Highway 61. Six years later the detour remains in effect, but fortunately, we have a new, nearly 5-mile route planned for this “lost” section of the SHT. We have worked with an environmental services firm to identify the best possible trail alignment that minimizes environmental impacts, appeals to trail users, and utilizes public lands for public recreation. 

Current Detour on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail and Blueberry Hill Road

Proposed Gooseberry Gap Reroute on Public Lands

If you would like to share additional information on how the SHT has benefited you and the Lake County community, we invite you to share your stories with the Commission. If you have questions for the SHTA, please contact us at [email protected].

Thank you for your help in this matter. The Superior Hiking Trail will be better for it.