Stower Trail

After years of debate and thousands of comments, the fate of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail (SSLST) will now be in the hands of the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources (WDNR).

July’s regular meeting of the Polk County Board of Supervisors saw a difference of opinion in whether or not a vote to approve the Toole Design Master Plan concerning the trail should remain on the evening’s agenda. Saw board members expressed concern over whether a vote should be made before the new Polk County Trail Advisory group (TAG) is put into place. Ultimately, there were more board members who voted to carry on with the decision and leave the agenda as is.

During public comment Polk County ATV and Snowmobile Council member, Doug Continued from page 1

Johnson of Amery, expressed his gratitude for the item remaining on the agenda. He said, “I know people in the county have been working very hard for the last 17 years to see this issue through. Hopefully with the passage of this resolution this evening we can move this on to the DNR. Any more delays on this would certainly affect us for the snowmobile season.”

On the flip side, Brook Waalen, President of the SSLST, who resides in the Town of Bone Lake, said, “This trail is open to anybody and everybody at anytime. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how healthy you are. There are people who are not at all excited about the prospect of putting horses on the SSLST. I don’t think it is very reasonable to put horses in close proximity to people on bicycles. It may not be all that nice either to put snowmobiles next to cross country skiers and other pedestrians using the trail in the winter.”

A representative from Toole Design gave the presentation that had been approved by the Environmental Committee, which sees both snowmobiles and horses added to approved uses of the trail.

When it was time for discussion on the agenda item, Supervisor Steve Warndahl agreed with Waalen’s sentiments saying he knew of people who use the trail to train for Hayward’s Birkebeiner and thought it would hard to do so if it was opened up to other activities.

“We’ve heard that for years and years and years,” said Board Chair Chris Nelson.

A roll call vote was taken to approve the Master Plan and send it to the DNR for their approval. Votes of “Yes” came from John Bonneprise, Joe Demulling, Brad Olson, Doug Route, Tracy LaBlanc, Brian Masters, Sharon Kelly, Kim O’Connell, Chris Nelson. Votes of “No” came from Warndahl, Amy Middleton, Jay Luke, Fran Duncanson, Russ Arcand. Supervisor Mike Prichard, who had been on the meeting virtually, was not present when the vote was taken.

With nine votes of “Yes” over five votes of “No” the motion passed.

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