Few Iowans are thinking about bicycling during the dead of winter, except those city and county leaders who plan to build new bike trails when spring arrives. Dozens of those sorts of folks will meet at Swan Lake State Park in Carroll County next week for a how-to summit on biking and hiking trails. The organizer is John Klein, with Missouri and Mississippi Divide Resource Conservation and Development.
Klein says, “We’re going to talk about some of the trails that people have built and what problems arose when they were building them and invite the leaders of future trails to come and learn from the past trail experiences of people.” While some trails are short, like around a park, others connect towns. Klein says there’s a growing demand in Iowa to interconnect efforts creating very long trails covering several counties. Still, he says there’s one big challenge: buying the land to build a trail.
“It’s more difficult here in Iowa because our land values are so high,” Klein says. “In states to the west and to the south, land isn’t as good. Land doesn’t cost as much. It’s easier to acquire for recreational uses and that makes a big difference.” Trails attract young people and families as Iowa works to sustain and grow its population, so Klein says trail development is considered a priority.
“It’s very good for bikers,” Klein says. “It’s also very good for the local economy. Bikers bring business.” Speakers at the workshop will come from the National Park Service, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Trees Forever.
Klein says the main feature is the interaction of the workshop participants to learn from each others’ experiences. The trails workshop is free and is scheduled to begin at 10 A.M. on Thursday January 27. For more information, call (712) 792-4415.