Having had the pleasure of discovering the Whispering Ridge Aquatic Management Areas on horseback made it obvious to me why the Minnesota Trail Riders Association and others are so keen on protecting and developing horse riding opportunities on public lands in the Minnesota River Valley. The 182-acres of public land offered a riding experience that brought up repeated comparisons to better known destination trails both inside and outside of the state.
As someone who also does a fair amount of hunting on public lands, I also appreciate the concerns about developing trails on lands acquired for habitat and hunting, often with funds generated by the sale of hunting licenses and equipment and sport groups.
My opportunity to ride the trail on the Whispering Ridge AMA earlier this year came at an event that brought representatives of the DNR and horse riding groups together.
The good news is this. The two sides had a sincere and open conversation about how to work this all out.
There’s real urgency that this conversation produces results.
While the DNR is moving forward with land acquisitions already initiated, it has essentially put on hold any action to pursue other acquisitions until things are resolved.
Any delay is costly. There is not much more time available to acquire undeveloped land within the Minnesota River Valley. Much of that land is owned by people at an age where they are likely to turn over its ownership soon.
The strong interest by citizens in the Minnesota River Valley for recreational opportunities like hunting and trail riding, and conservation, make this an opportune time to seek Legacy and other funding to make things happen.
And of course, a strong agricultural economy also means that the interest and the resources to convert much of the remaining, undeveloped land for agricultural production have never been greater, either.
- Tom Cherveny