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Trail funding OKd by Cass board

WALKER — Cass County Board authorized Tuesday providing up to $150,000 toward the final phase of the Shingobee Connection Trail between the Paul Bunyan Trail and the city of Walker.

Steve Bilben, trail committee member, told the board earlier funds the county has contributed toward this trail have enabled the committee to use the county money as a local match to obtain a large amount of additional state and federal funding to build the trail.

The Paul Bunyan Trail cuts diagonally north toward Bemidji north of Hackensack, bypassing the city of Walker. This connection trail will provide a more direct link between Brainerd and Walker for those not choosing to go as far north as Bemidji. It also gives Walker a more direct link to the trail.

The sections around Walker are in place, as is the connection from north of Hackensack to Shingobee Island south of Walker. This year, funding is in place to build a bridge over a waterway by Shingobee Island.

The final phase toward which the county pledged money Tuesday will provide for a trail section in 2013 that will run past the community center and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School and through a box culvert under Highway 371 to Leech Lake inside the city.

Bilben said the snowmobile and bicycle/walking underpass beneath Highway 371 will serve not only recreational purposes, but also provide a safe highway crossing for school students and community center users to access the city park.

Cass’s contribution will come from Fund 73, which is interest income the county receives on a trust fund developed in 2000 when the county sold former state leased lots. The principle remains in the fund, but interest may be spent on environmental and recreation-related projects.

The county also has contributed toward trails in East Gull Lake from this fund and last month pledge money toward engineering for trails proposed in Lake Shore.

On another trails project, the county board voted to authorize spending up to 35 percent of the DNR estimated $50,000 cost to repair existing Soo Line and Snoway I recreational trails. The Soo Line improvement will run east from Bena toward Cass Lake. The Snoway I project will be a portion of the trail in Deerfield Township.

The commissioners approve a plan for Minnesota DNR to burn a wet meadow area, including some county administered land, in an area along the Boy River and adjacent Sugar Point of Leech Lake, plus an area around Mud and Goose Lakes east of Federal Dam.

Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson reported the land department sold $216,608 worth of timber from county lands at a Feb. 23 auction.

Aspen sold for $27.95 per cord. In addition to pulp wood, the county sold 124,800 board feet of red and white pine saw logs on this auction.