County buys land for water trail access

After more than a year of discussions with the property owners, the Webster County Board of Supervisors has agreed to purchase land in Kalo to build a water trail access point on the Des Moines River.

The supervisors voted to buy a 2.73 acre parcel of land from Dean and Sharon Henderson for $8,200 at their weekly meeting Tuesday.

Supervisor Keith Dencklau was absent from the otherwise unanimous vote.

Matt Cosgrove, director of Webster County Conservation, told the supervisors that the water trail access is a “high-priority project” for the county.

Among the benefits of the planned water access is giving safety to volunteer firefighters when they need to access the Des Moines River.

“We’re happy to move forward with the purchase agreement with them,” Cosgrove said.

Discussions on purchasing the land began about a year ago when the supervisors entered into a two-year lease agreement with the Hendersons. Cosgrove said construction was expected to start by now, but heavy rains changed those plans.

“Unfortunately the river has had other plans this year,” he said, “which has been a good thing for us, actually.”

Cosgrove said the levels actually allowed the county to see how the river behaves when water levels are high.

With the purchase approved, Cosgrove said the project is expected to go to bid in August with an anticipated completion date of sometime next summer.

Supervisor Mark Campbell thanked the Hendersons for all their work with the land purchase.

“They’re absolutely wonderful to work with,” he said.

He added that the access point will be a great addition to the area.

“They were great partners with this project,” Campbell said.

In other conservation-related business, the supervisors placed on file the Connecting Communities trail grant program.

Cosgrove said this grant is aimed towards the small communities in Webster County.

“It provides an opportunity for small communities to apply for some funding on a match basis for trail planning to start with in their community, and then trail development moving forward,” he said.

The smaller towns in Webster County can apply for an 80-20 match program for a $10,000 trail plan. Cosgrove said after the planning is done, the towns can then apply for an 80-20 grant up to $50,000 to start implementing that plan.

“Hopefully it’ll provide a nice resource for some of those small communities to start doing some visioning in their communities and then supply some funding,” he said.

Cosgrove told the supervisors he will reach out to the city clerks and encourage them to get the applications in by Sept. 1, the deadline. He will provide an update to the supervisors after September.