Minnesota River rats are cheering Tuesday night's vote by citizens in Renville County's Sacred Heart Township to adopt a resolution opposing a proposed Off Highway Vehicle county park. The river enthusiasts had feared the project would disturb environmentally sensitive areas and the enjoyment of a remote stretch of the middle corridor of the Minnesota River Valley
West Central Tribune staff writer Tom Cherveny writes in Sacred Heart Township vote challenges Renville County proposal for OHV Park:
Sacred Heart Township residents attending the annual meeting on Tuesday evening voted 14 to 6 to adopt a resolution opposing the park.
The resolution rescinds a vote by the board of supervisors made last year supporting the park. It is proposed to be developed in the Minnesota River Valley in sections 22 and 23 of the township.
The resolution states that a majority of residents oppose the project, are concerned about how it would adversely affect land values, and charges that neighboring landowners and residents were not contacted or allowed to voice their concerns in advance of passage of the resolution last year supporting the park.
Landowners adjacent to the proposed site oppose the project, and they brought the resolution for a vote.
Dave Zaske, one of the affected landowners, said the resolution will be sent to the Renville County board of commissioners. He said the county board has said the fate of the park was up to the township. He is hopeful that this resolution will lead the board to stop pursuing the project.
The resolution raises the hopes of paddlers and anglers worried about plans to turn their stretch of the river into an ATV destination, with connected trails linking playgrounds for the snarly vehicles--and the use of legacy funds intended for preserving natural areas and water quality to create the recreation area. (Read a draft of a suggested bill--not yet introduced--here).
They fear the recreational use will not only echo down the valley corridor, but the opportunity to "mud" the bluffs will destroy natural habitat and promote erosion. Reducing the sediment load in the Minnesota River is crucial for the quality of downriver areas like Lake Pepin.
Bluestem applauds the decision of the citizens of Sacred Heart Township. One of our fondest memories is stopping on the township road that winds toward the Joseph Brown house ruins to watch a flock of 200 migrating Arctic Swans that paused in the flooded river bottoms. Their calls echoed in the valley, while another flock sang from a flooded field a half mile upstream.
Not likely to happen again if the bluffs echo with the sound of ATVs.
Photo: The ruins of an old barn that would be in the park. Phot by Tom Cherveny/West Central Tribune.
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