Trail system expansion continues with Phase II

“If you build it, they will come.” This infamous quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” is reflective of the Fort Dodge – Webster County Regional Trail System. Since the completion of Phase I of our trail system, we have seen significantly expanded use of our trails by people of all ages. Be they walkers, joggers or bikers, our trail system has become a true source of pride and recreation for our community.

Our experience with trails in the greater Fort Dodge area is no different from what other cities and towns have experienced. Communities all across America are finding out that good, well-maintained trails can promote safe and livable communities and significantly contribute to their quality of life. High-quality trail systems encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors and embrace activity. Residents use trails for a variety of recreational activities including biking, hiking, running, and in the winter, cross country skiing. Trails are also valued for their ability to connect people with places and to nature itself. They provide safe, convenient and enjoyable access to parks, nature areas, and other community venues. Often, a community’s trail system will provide a sense of place and serve as an indicator of the community’s investment in health, vitality, recreation and quality of life.

The Trails Advisory Board, in partnership with the city of Fort Dodge and Webster County, is striving to expand upon our trail system for the enjoyment of biking, running and walking enthusiasts. We have developed a Phase II Plan that will expand access to our trail system and complete the loop around our city. Building on the momentum created from our current trail system, our Phase II plan will expand on our existing 25-mile recreational trail network by constructing additional trail segments. This plan will extend the current trail network from the Humane Society to 15th Avenue South and then over to Oleson Park. To complete the loop, the trail will continue from Oleson Park to the Sunkissed Meadow Riverfront Trail. Once completed, our trail system will encircle the city of Fort Dodge. The plan also calls for three additional trail connections to enhance access to the trail system.

This project will add more than four miles of newly constructed trails, consisting of five individual projects. Ultimately, our trail system will provide users with direct trail access to more than 15 city and county parks, three schools and a variety of community attractions. In addition, Phase II will also include the acquisition of land south of Fort Dodge, along the Des Moines River that will eventually provide future connections to other regional destinations in Webster County. Phase II is expected to be completed by November of 2018.

The Fort Dodge – Webster County Regional Trail System provides citizens and families with high-quality trails that are used for recreation and fitness, but it also offers a number of economic benefits for our community. Our trail system attracts visitors to our area that enjoy walking, running, hiking and biking. It also enhances the desirability of our community which helps attract businesses and young families to the Fort Dodge area that want to live in an area that provides recreational opportunities and supports health and quality of life amenities.

The $2.4 million Phase II plan of the Fort Dodge – Webster County Regional Trail System includes a $700,000 federal grant and a $400,000 Enhance Iowa grant. These grants will be leveraged by donations from the public. Including support from the city and county, currently $2 million has been secured. The Trails Advisory Board is partnering with the Fort Dodge Community Foundation to launch a community fund raising initiative to raise the final $400,000. These private funds will complete the financial commitment for Phase II trail system development.

The Trails Advisory Board, the City and County have worked closely with numerous organizations, businesses and citizens in the trail prioritization process. It has been and continues to be a collaborative community process. Presently, a “Hike and Bike Webster County” planning initiative is taking place to help us prioritize future trail plans and multi-season use for Webster County. We truly believe when our Phase II Trail System Plan becomes a reality, the Fort Dodge – Webster County Regional Trail System will be a very significant quality of life asset for our community, neighboring towns and the county that will be recognized as one of the best regional trail systems in the state.

To view a map of the trail plan and for information on how you can donate to the Phase II plan, please visit the Fort Dodge Community Foundation website at www.fd-foundation.org.

Phase II Plan

• Humane Society to Oleson Park Trail

• North Seventh Street Connection to Nature Trail

• North 22nd Street Connection to Nature Trail

• North 15th Street Trail from Floral Avenue to Casey’s

• Oleson Park Trail to Sunkissed Meadow Trail

• Land Acquisition along the Des Moines River

• Trail Head and Trail Amenities

Randy Kuhlman is chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation. Matt Cosgrove is director of the Webster County Conservation Board. Carissa Harvey, AICP, is senior planner, Business Affairs & Community Growth, city of Fort Dodge.

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