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Boulder Junction Park Board discusses developing naturalized walking trail

January 07, 2020 by Kayla Houp

While no action was taken, the Boulder Junction Park Board discussed Friday, Jan. 3, the possibility of establishing a naturalized walking trail connecting the Boulder Junction Winter Park to the Community Center and Sturm Memorial Field.

Board member Barb Boston said she had reached out to Northern Highland-American Legion (NHAL) State Forest property manager Craig Dalton regarding the proposed trail.

“Initially, he said, ‘That sounds great,’” Boston said. “Then, I said, ‘Well, we’re not sure, but we might have to clear a few trees for that, but we don’t know.’”

Boston said she had then reached out to Department of Natural Resources (DNR) financial assistant Jillian Steffes, but hadn’t heard back as of the time of the meeting.

According to Boston, Dalton’s suggestion was the trail be as wide as what was used to groom the Winter Park trail.

“We want it to be a cross country ski trail, and I don’t know what that is, but we need to find that out,” Boston said.?“What he needs is a map.”

Boston said she intended to reach out to town clerk and treasurer Dan Driscoll to see if there was an easement and property map on file.

“There should be a file on the easements and each property we have as the town as a starting point for creating a map out there,” board member Dick Jenks said.

“As it started out, it was a walking trail, and now it’s a ski trail,” board chair and town supervisor Laura Bertch said.

Boston clarified it would double as both a walking and ski trail as a multi-use trail.

Bertch said while she understood, there was still a concern regarding how to keep snowmobilers off the trail during the winter.

Jenks suggested marking the trail or putting up a sign, the “same way” the town kept snowmobilers off of the bike trail.

Boston added the board “wasn’t there yet” in the design or planning process, and there still needed to be a discussion on the exact placement of the trail.

“I think we should move on, and just to know that this is rolling, and if it doesn’t pan out, it doesn’t pan out,” Boston said.

“We don’t have to dissect it here,” Jenks added.

Exploring a relationship

The park board also intends to explore the relationship between the town and NHAL staff to clarify ownership of boat landings and parks within the township of Boulder Junction.

Jenks read from the Vilas County Outdoor Recreation Plan effective Jan. 1, 2019 until Dec. 31, 2023, and said he felt it “explains the intent and purpose of this recreation plan.”

“We got onto this because we found this old resolution that the town board had approved, which said, basically, the town of Boulder Junction supports the county recreation plan,” Jenks said. “There was never any subsequent resolution or begin or end point to this support, and it was basically so the county could apply for grant funding.”

According to Jenks, the recreation plan outlines what the town was trying to identify as to how Boulder Junction parks fit into the county plan.

“In the plan is an inventory of what they identify to be the Town of Boulder Junction’s parks and facilities,” he said.

Jenks said the board needed to identify which boat landings the town owned or maintained.

“To my knowledge, the town doesn’t own or maintain any boat landings,” he added, saying he believed NHAL and DNR owned all of the landings in the Town of Boulder Junction.

Jenks said the discussion also connected to the board’s effort to identify how the town can work with Vilas County and the NHAL on the town’s parks and recreation efforts.

“If we’re going to manage the Town of Boulder Junction’s owned facilities, or expand them, we need to have a good basis for which they are,” Jenks said.

“I thought this was a great document, it’s a great resource and real informative,” Boston said.

“The other initiative that we were working was to explore the connection and the partner ship with Northern Highlands,” Jenks said. “I think this would be the point to give an update on that.”

Jenks continued, saying there was an effort to connect with NHAL staff, including NHAL manager Sara Pearson, to explore the potential partnership.

“She’s willing to come to our meeting,” he said. 

He proposed asking Pearson to describe her responsibilities and to, in turn, describe the board’s view and role; to explore how they could partner and work together.

“She’s in charge of the DNR parks, not the town parks,” Bertch said.

“Exactly,” Jenks said. “She’s in charge of the boat landings, she’s in charge of the campgrounds, she’s in charge of all the other recreation facilities, all the outlying campsites, all of the signage, things like that.”

Bertch asked what Jenks was hoping to get from the conversation with Pearson.

“How we can work together. What her role is, what her objective is in managing these facilities. I don’t think we want to duplicate recreation opportunities unless there’s a need between us and the DNR, us and the NHAL. That’s what we’re trying to get out of this discussion,” Jenks explained.

He added he wanted to clarify the ownership and restrictions on “various properties” within the township.

Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected].

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