Kennedy appointed to Parks & Trails Commission

At the February 18, 2014 meeting Cook County commissioners, Tim Kennedy of Grand Marais was appointed to represent the county on the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks & Trails Commission.

Kennedy is longtime member of the Superior Cycling Association and North Shore Ski and Run Club and a strong advocate for establishing and building trails to accommodate those activities. He came before the board asking to be the county’s representative on the council at the regional and statewide levels so that he can advocate for Cook County.

The Superior Cycling Association applied for Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Trails Legacy Grant funding last fall and while it was turned down, Kennedy said, “We are still hopeful and optimistic,” that the club would reapply and receive funds in the future.

If granted the money would be used to build more single-track mountain biking trails at Pincushion Mountain in Grand Marais and Britton Peak in Tofte. Each area has about five miles of single-track mountain biking trails with two more miles to be added to each system this summer.

Outstate Minnesota is in a constant fight with the Metro area for state funds to build and maintain more recreational trails, said Kennedy.  In the last three years $70 million in state funds have been allocated to the Metro Parks while the rest of the state has been awarded $26 million.

The GMPTC works with the governor and legislative leaders to select projects seeking funds from the Parks & Trail Legacy Fund, which was initiated by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

“If I get appointed to the coalition it will give us more footing to apply for more Legacy funding, which might be as early as this fall,” Kennedy said.

Mountain biking is a growing sport nationally, and single-track riders are pushing that trend even further.

Thousands of mountain biker’s travel to ride the Cuyuna mountain bike trail system built in the Crosby Ironton area and the Chequamegon mountain bike trails located near Hayward, Wisconsin. Kennedy and others believe that if enough trails are developed in Cook County that coupled with the area’s naturally beauty and terrain, those riders will find their way here. There will also be ample opportunities to hold races and host special events that will attract visitors and locals alike.

Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk asked Kennedy whether he would be able to vote on the coalition if he wasn’t a county commissioner. Kennedy said he didn’t know, but would get back to the board and tell them after he attended one of their meetings.

The board voted unanimously in favor of sending Kennedy as the county’s representative and offered to have the county pay his mileage and meals when he attends state legislative hearings, which Kennedy accepted with thanks.