By Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent

The east segment of the Pelican Rapids to Perham recreational trail will be the first section to be constructed. Work, according to county commissioners and county staff members, will hopefully begin in the next few months.

This topic was addressed during the county board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the County Government Services Center in northwest Fergus Falls.

The east segment, of 6.41 miles, will run from Little McDonald Lake to Perham and will be close to Highway 34.

County board members, county engineer Chuck Grotte and a consultant also talked about the other sections of the trail. These include an area near Silent Lakes, within Maplewood State Park, west of the park along Highway 3 to Highway 59 and then north to Pelican Rapids.

The recreational trail, when completed, will be 10 feet wide and 32 miles long. The DNR will be responsible for the trail within Maplewood State Park.

Much of the $14.2 million needed for construction will come from the state of Minnesota. Outgoing State Rep. Bud Nornes supports the trail as does State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen.

Public input meetings have been held and the county board has support for the trail from the cities of Pelican Rapids and Perham as well as organizations such as West Central Initiative and PartnerSHIP4Health.

The county has been busy with easements, right of way talks, environmental meetings and other hurdles that need to be met before the recreational trail can become a reality.

More about first phase of recreational trail

The first phase of the recreational trail from Pelican Rapids to Perham, from Little McDonald Lake to Perham, will coincide with a Highway 34 reconstruction project.

“Work should begin this summer,” says Otter Tail County Engineer Chuck Grotte. “The work along this east section of 6.41 miles, from Little McDonald Lake and heading eastward, will end at Coney Street in Perham.”

He added that grading and base work for the trail will be done as part of the Highway 34 reconstruction project. The paving will be done under a separate project. 

Otter Tail County is seeking state legacy funds for sections of the trail from Pelican Rapids to Perham. Assistance also comes from area state lawmakers who are working through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission.