This is in response to the letter from the gentleman from Avon concerning Rails to Trails. (Press & Dakotan, Sept. 28) We believe you should visit some trails in several of our neighboring states. There are many trails which pass through farmlands, resulting in few problems or complaints. Please check out Iowa’s 89-mile Raccoon River Valley Trail. It is an award-winning trail and an economic benefit for the small towns it passes through. It passes through beautiful farmland and connects to the state capitol. It eventually will be part of the Great American Rail Trail, which will link Washington, D.C., to Washington State. It will connect with the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska, and hopefully, there will be a connector to trails in our state.
Rails to Trails is a positive investment for our state and communities. Businesses in small towns will benefit from the trail traffic. The folks who utilize trails are not a threat to the landowners’ safety or privacy. Trail users ride bikes, walk, run, rollerblade and generally just like to enjoy fun and healthy outdoor activities for folks of all ages. Trails provide a safe environment for these activities. Folks with disabilities especially appreciate such an environment. On trails we visit throughout the country, we see hand-pedaled bikes and trikes, wheelchairs and electric-assisted bikes.
If grant money is available, as inferred by the trail opponent’s letter, South Dakota should indeed take advantage of it rather than let another state benefit from it.
Our experience has shown that there are always objections by landowners and some other taxpayers to the establishment of new Rails to Trails. This is generally because opponents have little knowledge of the benefits of trails and little or no experience with trails. Hopefully, our state will follow the lead of other states in establishing more beautiful and health-promoting trails.