|2/26/2021 2:55:00 PM|
Keeping up with the times
The Swedish Immigrant Regional Trail may have got ten the lion’s share of coverage in 2020 as a trailhead opened in Taylors Falls and gorgeous new bridges were set in place on a just-completed segment of the trail— but acres and acres of other county parks and trails also deserve the spotlight.
Chisago County Parks Director Joe Tart did just that for the County Board, unveiling his annual parks milestones report last week.
The county worked with Soil and Water Conservation District to greatly enhance pollinator habitat, adding plantings in 12 acres in Ki Chi Saga Park and eight acres in Frandsen Park.
A playground structure was erected at Checkerboard Park, which is meant for young children who also do well in the shallow beach area provided. Checkerboard also has the only fenced dog area in the system.
In 2020 the county saw an increase in popularity of the North Sunrise Park Reserve, which is 150 acres of un-improved acreage available to be utilized for hunting. And, 13 acres are rented for crop farming.
Tart commented if the shotgun, archery and muzzleloader interest continues at current pace, the county may have to think about a lottery for safety. Contact parks for a hunt application, map, and authorization letter.
Fish Lake beach saw seven days of closure, due to bacteria alerts. There were 2,920 daily parking passes sold and 268 season passes for a total of about $15,000. This covers staffing costs to collect entry fees and do maintenance. The park west of Harris continued to be a favorite for shelter reservations, with 21 dates reserved. Due to covid half were cancelled but it still outpaced shelter use at Kost, Checkerboard and Frandsen Parks.
Shelter fees for holidays and weekends are $60 for residents of Chisago County and $75 non-residents. Weekday use is only $35 for anybody.
The new fee imposed for those reserving athletic fields brought in $660, (special uses $70 more) which was put to good use and a play structure surface was improved and field renovations were made.
The “adopt a trail” program was put into action in 2020 with $750 income from those adopting regional trail sections. The Swedish Immigrant Trail sections have all been spoken for, by Chisago Lakes Rotary, Wildwood Campground and Maklin Bike Shop. Sections are available on the Sunrise Prairie Trail.
County Environmental Services Director Kurt Schneider also said the staff are monitoring the Legacy grant recommendations awaiting authorization by the legislature, with an application for improving the Harris-North Branch stretch of the Sunrise Prairie Trail (story in Press January 21.) There’s about two and a half miles of trail from 406th to Harris.
The County Board also approved the environmental services department to apply for a grant for funds to acquire the Lutz parcel, adjacent to Checkerboard Park, North Branch. The non-profit Parks & Trails Council already owns the 40 acres as part of its strategic land acquisition plan, and Chisago County has a window of opportunity to acquire it from the non-profit.
As for personnel, Tart reports at least a few staff enjoy where they work, and five of 11 positions in the full seasonal roster were retained by returning employees.
Covid-19 restrictions had an impact last year on activity in the parks and on the trails; but not as extensively as expected. There were over 40 reservations made for shelters and park amenities and just 11 were cancelled. The MS150 bike ride fundraiser is among the largest users of county parks and this was called off in 2020, as well as the Reebok Ragnar Minnesota Run that utilizes the Sunrise Prairie Trail. A kayaking fishing tournament on Rush Lake went off as planned, along with events for ATV training and a high school cross country meet at Ki Chi Saga Park. Various sports leagues (soccer, youth football, baseball, etc.)also held seasons or parts of seasons.