They’ll Be Watching Us, But At Their Leisure

May 1, 2020

As we outlined in the cover story of our most recent Ridgeline newsletter, the Superior Hiking Trail Association is committed to doing right by the land and water the SHT passes over and through, and by the land management agencies who grant us that access.

Protecting the cherished lands and waters along the SHT is a key principle of our Trail Renewal Program. Collaboration with land management agencies helps make that possible.

The most influential agency for us is the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources. We operate under a lease with the agency. We’ve learned in recent days that a new lease is being held up due to… well, we’re not exactly sure why. 

We have not received any formal communication about why three proposed projects have not been forwarded for review or why the lease has been delayed. The DNR received the data for these projects in November of 2019. We can say with some certainty the delay has nothing to do with the coronavirus. 

The “Gooseberry Gap” reroute between Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock River is among the proposed projects awaiting DNR approval.

This means we can’t develop any trail projects on state land (or on a combination of state and county land, whereby the DNR becomes the “responsible government unit”) until DNR completes a process whose nature, scope and purpose remain a mystery to us. And with projects delayed, access to state funds to pay for them are jeopardized, as those grants are on a time clock. 

Making the Trail more environmentally friendly and safer for trail users is at stake.  

We have asked the directors of two divisions of the agency to tell us what’s up. We’ll update you when we learn more.