Trails effort is launched in Pocahontas Co. Wednesday

POCAHONTAS – For anyone who wants to walk, run or ride a bike on a trail, there are essentially two major options in Pocahontas County.

One of them is the mile-long Laurens Prairie Preservation Trail on the south side of its namesake city. The other option is a roughly nine-mile piece of the Three Rivers Trail between Rolfe and the border of Pocahontas and Humboldt counties.

There are smaller trails at Sportsman’s Park in Laurens and Coopers Cove Park in the southeastern corner of the county.

An effort to add more trails was launched with a public meeting Wednesday night at the office of the Pocahontas County Conservation Board at Rosenberger Park. By the conclusion of the session, the 20 people in attendance decided to form a task force charged with developing a trails plan for the county.

“We’ve got some very strong interest here tonight and that was very evident in the comments,” said Margo Underwood, the Hometown Pride community coach who led the meeting.

“I was thrilled with the turnout and the excitement expressed here,” she said after the meeting. ”I thinking putting together the county trails plan and working with the regional planning efforts is going to be a real win-win for Pocahontas County and the region.”

During the meeting, these features were identified as things that would be desirable in a trail system:

– Links to cities.

– Places along trails where exercise equipment could be placed.

– Connections to recreation areas such as Lizard Lake.

– Artworks that would dovetail with the recently announced public art initiative in the county.

About three miles of abandoned railroad right of way northwest of Laurens was identified as a potential trail location.

Building trails can cost $100,000 a mile even if the trail isn’t paved. Shirley Helgevold, the assistant director of the MIDAS Council of Governments in Fort Dodge, gave a summary of the funding that’s available for trails.

She said the sources of money include the state’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program, the state’s land and water conservation program, state trails funds offered by the Iowa Department of Transportation and regional trails funds from the federal transportation law.

The new trails task force includes Pocahontas County Supervisor Jeff Ives and Brian Reis, the director of the Conservation Board. Other members are Matt Hertz, of Laurens; Wanda Krier, of Fonda; Barb Smith, of Laurens; and Zach Wentzel, of Pocahontas.

The task force will meet for the first time at 9:30 a.m. March 5 at the Conservation Board office.