Debates between opposing sides of county trail issues have been taking place in Balsam Lake for quite some time. Recently, the Polk County board has opted to try something new by forming a group specifically for trail management, the Polk County Parks and Trail Advisory Group (TAG).

The approach sprung from Ben Efelt, Polk County Parks and Trails coordinator, Ben Elfelt in hopes of developing a long-term comprehensive plan for the county’s trails and parks.

Environmental services director Bob Kazmierski said TAG would ideally be made up of representatives from several stakeholder groups who will have to apply and then chosen. Two County Board Supervisors will also be part of the group, but  TAG members would assist with decisions on funding and usage. Kazmierski said the group is meant assist all user groups. “I think there is a space for all of them. Every user group has an opportunity to recreate,” said Kazmierski. He also hopes this will also provide opportunities to work with municipalities.

Startup of TAG will take $50,000 from an amended 2020 budget.

“Hopefully, it can be a little more civil than it’s been in the past,” Supervisor Jay Luke said in terms of the discussions between different stakeholders who will play a part in TAG. He also hopes having the group will mean the county can apply for even more grants.

The full board was supportive of the decision and it passed unanimously.

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