It’s been a busy time cutting and baling hay, as well as attending local events. I was pleasantly surprised during a visit with the Aitkin County Board of Commissioners to be honored with a certification of appreciation in recognition of dedicated services to the residents of Aitkin County as their state representative.
Aitkin County is hard at work on a new ATV trail system that will be located on the east side of Mille Lacs Lake. The system will provide an expansive ATV trail loop linking the resort areas on the east side of the lake, and the towns of Malmo and Glen with the existing Northwoods ATV trail. That project is funded with $1.5 million from the State of Minnesota with a local match from Aitkin County .
DNR and local officials recently gathered at the Sagamore Unit in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation for the ribbon cutting of a major upgrade, adding 15.1 miles of new trails.
The new addition includes over 7 miles of adaptive trails for hand-bike and other assistive bike enthusiasts. This is a first of its kind trail system that was purpose built specifically to accommodate those with disabilities that would prevent them from accessing the more challenging segments of the mountain bike trails located within the recreation area.
The project was funded with a combination of state funds and private sector donations. The project included a $300,000 grant of taconite production tax dollars from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Agency, funds donated by the Hallett Foundation and support by the local mountain bike club. The project creates the state’s first adaptive bike trail system within the already world class mountain bike system at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.
I also participated in a legislative panel discussion hosted by the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce and Aitkin County. The panel included staff from our federal congressional offices, as well as area incumbent state legislators and candidates that will be on the ballot in the new districts this November.
The discussion was dominated by a robust debate on the future of mining and forestry in Minnesota and the continued negative impact regulatory uncertainty has on the ability for natural resource-based industries to exist and grow in Minnesota. I remain convinced that mining, forestry, and tourist-based industries all can coexist while at the same time we protect our wonderful north woods environment.