Tag: Dennis Porter

Matt Andrews, MORC Executive Director; Assoc Regional Director of IMBA Upper MidwestI last blogged about advocacy related to the MN River bottoms issue back in August (here).  Since then, Matt Andrews has started his new job as the new Executive Director of MORC and Associate Regional Director of IMBA’s Upper Midwest region.

The MORC Board has indicated that they want him to get up to speed on the issue, so those of us who’ve been involved have been bombarding him with PDFs, emails, and links to everything we can think of.

L to R: Matt Andrews, Dennis Porter, Don Youngdahl, Kent Karjala L to R: Matt Andrews, Kent Karjala, Don Youngdahl, Dennis Porter L to R: Kent Karjala, Dennis Porter, Matt Andrews, Don Youngdahl,

And today, he got taken to school—a tour through the MN River Bottoms from I35W to the Hwy 169 Bloomington Ferry Bridge and back, narrated by longtime MN River Bottoms dirt bosses Dennis Porter and Don Youngdahl, with Kent Karjala and I chiming in regularly.

The issue of adding a paved trail to this segment of the River Bottoms will heat up in January when the MN Legislature starts its 2014 session. A DNR request for funding for a paved trail through the River Bottoms from Cedar to 169 is likely to be included in the trails bonding bill.

The MORC Board hasn’t taken a formal position yet, as it’s not yet known whether the US Fish and Wildlife Service will allow two trails through the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. I think it’s a safe bet that if only one trail is allowed and the DNR wants it paved, the MORC board will encourage mountain bikers to organize in opposition to the plan. If two trails are allowed (paved and natural surface), we’ll work to preserve the existing multiuse trail as much as possible, while collaborating on shared facilities like bridges and trailheads.

Advocacy

Gary Sjoquist, Dennis Porter, Don YoungdahlFellow MORC members Dennis Porter, Don Youngdahl  and I met with QBP Advocacy Director Gary Sjoquist yesterday at QBP’s HQ in Bloomington to discuss the current situation with the mountain bike trails in the Minnesota River Bottoms that I blogged about last week.

The MORC Board has not taken a formal position on the proposed paved or ‘finished surface’ trail through the Cedar-to-169 segment (Bloomington refuge corridor), nor have they officially appointed any of us to speak for them. But given the long history that Don, Dennis and Gary have with this issue, I think it’s probably fair to say that the Board is happy to have us working on it. I volunteered to be an informal liaison to the Board.

Our strategy for the next two months is simple: meet with the leaders  we know at the various government agencies and other key organizations to get a better understanding of what they know and their concerns. The new manager of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge has been hired and evidently will be starting in August.  In the meantime, we’ll be contacting people at the Parks and Trails Division of the DNR, the Parks and Trails Council of MN, the City of Bloomington, and the MN Division of the Izaac Walton League.

I edited my blog post to make it clearer that website for The Friends of the Minnesota Valley’s Trail Advocacy Group is a separate website from the Friends of the Minnesota Valley website. While Ed Crozier is listed as Director Emeritus of the Friends of the Minnesota Valley, it would appear that his advocacy on this issue has not been embraced by their Board. If true, we need to understand why.

One of the arguments against constructing a paved or ‘finished surface’ trail along the bottom lands of the Minnesota River is that it’s likely to be very expensive to maintain it since the river regularly floods. After the meeting, Don Youndahl and I did a reconnaissance ride from the Bloomington Ferry Bridge trailhead to see the condition of the trail since the flooding that had occurred a week ago.

Don wrote last night in the MORC forum:

Tried a reconnaissance ride from Bloomington Ferry late this morning. Almost no standing water, but still too wet in the low spots. The good news is the flooding has knocked down a lot of the itch-weed. Wait for a few more good drying days, & bring a hand saw. The flood has done it’s usual job on the trail.

MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013

MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013 MN River Bottoms flooding, Bloomington, July 2013
As you can see, the flooding deposited huge amounts of muck everywhere, including on top of the bridges that cross the smaller streams (bridges that Don, Dennis and other MORC members have constructed and reconstructed many times over the years). If there was a paved or ‘finished surface’ trail through there, the cleanup costs would be significant. It’s not clear which government agency would budget for this regular occurrence.

Griff Wigley and Don Youngdahl Griff Wigley and Don Youngdahl
I took the selfie on the left when Don and I returned to the parking lot. We toasted ourselves afterwards at Zeke’s Place.

Advocacy