Friends of the Jackson County Trails
Interview by Linda Picone
The active core of Friends of the Jackson County Trails has doubled since it began in 1998—from about five people to 10 or more. As with many Friends groups around Minnesota, the number of people involved matters less than the vision, dedication and persistence. “We’re pretty informal and we don’t have a budget,”
says Wilma Pell, one of that dedicated core group from the beginning. “We’re all just volunteers.”
Those interested in more information, or in helping create trails in Jackson County, can contact
How did Friends of the Jackson County Trails begin?
A few interested people got together in 1998. There were no trails in Jackson County before that. Southwest Minnesota is pretty low on trails overall; we didn’t get started developing trails as early as the rest of the state. Some of us had been going to trails around the state for quite a few years and we figured we needed some around here. At about the same time, our county commissioners hired an engineer who was also interested in trails. The first grant application, for the Des Moines River Trail, was approved in 2000 and the fi rst segment of that trail opened in 2005.
What kinds of trails do you have today?
We have five miles completed in the city of Jackson and grants for another 2.5 miles in 2010. We have three miles of trails in county parks and a grant for another 1.2 miles scheduled for 2011. Th e first couple of miles of trails were built right along the river, and now we have trails on both sides of the river that go through a couple of parks. Most of the trails are in the city of Jackson, but now we have several other towns that are interested in getting some trails going.
What kind of use do the trails get?
They’re all non-motorized trails. People rollerblade, bicycle, run and walk their dogs and their babies. They’re all very well used.
How has the Friends association helped create these trails?
We’ve been involved in the development and building of trails, but mostly we’ve been the push behind the funding. Our county has been very helpful in sponsoring the trails, and then we’ve had donations from local organizations, banks and individuals, including one estate. Since we started, Friends has raised $70,000 for
trails in Jackson County.
Tell us about the Loon Lake Trail.
The Loon Lake Trail is a trail of a little over two miles that goes from our county park right to the Iowa border. We had a ribbon cutting for the segment on July 17 at the entrance of Iowa’s Mini-Wakan State Park. The trail was built with 80 percent federal funds and 20