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Happy trails to you: Walking opportunities abound in area

The Stower Seven Lakes State Trail runs from Amery to Dresser, about 14 miles in total.

Over the last few years, thanks to the foresight of a number of far sighted individuals, New Richmond has become a city of trails.

Trails and paths now crisscross the city allowing runners, walkers, bikers and recreational advocates the opportunity to safely run, walk or bike just about anywhere in the city.

Monthly meetings are held by a group of dedicated folks that are moving forward with well thought out plans to expand these passive activities making New Richmond and the surrounding area the showcase of healthy outdoor recreation. Local residents from throughout the county make up this loosely formed group known as the New Richmond Pathway Committee.

Support also comes in the form of formal participation from the New Richmond Area Community Foundation, the St. Croix County Land and Water Conservation Department, the St. Croix County Parks Department and the City of New Richmond plus input from numerous local outdoor recreational groups. Partnerships are the name of the game.

On our numerous trips to Stevens Point, Sal and I had become very familiar with the pathway system there called the Green Circle, which surrounds the city of Stevens Point with an intricate series of paths and trails. Over the years we have walked most of its 26 miles that make up that system.

The trail system in New Richmond offers everything and more. We are really fortunate to have such a valuable resource available to all. A detailed map of the New Richmond paths and trails will soon be available.

As walkers use these facilities remember that your pets are also welcome on the trails. Take them with you as they are also in need of exercise. If you don't own a dog, borrow one. To me, a walker without a dog is only getting half the enjoyment of the walk. Remember, however, to clean up after them.

St. Croix County has also been very busy designing a series of bike routes that interlink and encompass the whole county. Circular routes and connections are marked on a folded map which delineates and describes routes around New Richmond, Baldwin, Glenwood City, River Falls and Hudson.

Elevation charts and distances of the various routes are diagramed in a series of charts which allow the bikers an idea of the time and effort needed to complete the routes. A short description of each route, pointing out the route's highlights is also included on the pamphlet. Copies of this pamphlet are available at several locations and are made possible by the support of the New Richmond Area Community Foundation, the New Richmond Pathway committee, the St. Croix County Land and Water Conservation Department and the St. Croix County Parks Department. For more information contact the St. Croix County Parks Director at 715-684-2874, ext. 129.

Not to forget the birders and other outdoor enthusiasts of the area, an auto tour guide of various Waterfowl Production Areas and DNR lands will be available this fall. The guide is the product of a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the Friends of the St Croix Wetlands Management District (FSCWMD). The guide will include areas located in the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area which makes up St. Croix County and southern Polk County. A few Dunn County sites will also be featured. The auto tour guide will include seasonal points of interest indicating what species of birds, animals and plants can be viewed at what time and will provide a brief description of the geology and local history of the area.

If you haven't visited this relatively new DNR holding, now is the time to do it. In early June the Nagel Wildlife Management Area was formally dedicated. Located just to the south of Erin Corners and a bit west on the north side of 140th Avenue, the Nagel Wildlife Management Area is a 204 acre parcel made up of native grasses, wetlands and diversified wildlife habitat.

Over the last 15 years Vern Nagel and his wife, Becky, have restored this area converting it back to what it was long before intense human settlement changed the landscape. A parking lot is located off of 140th avenue and a kiosk has been constructed as part of an Eagle Scout Project under the direction of Eagle Scout Mitchell Kern. Vern has agreed to continue to keep the trails open and mowed. This is a "must visit", easily accessible site, that offers something for everyone.

Having moved a bit farther north in August, Sal and I have been branching out a bit also. We have recently discovered the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail, which meanders for 14 miles from downtown Amery and ends up near Lotus Lake at Dresser. We have walked about a third of it now within the last week and thoroughly enjoy the experience.

It is a 10-foot wide, non-motorized trail which is paved with crushed limestone. It is set up for biking, hiking and cross country skiing and has several points of access. During our excursions lots of wildlife has been seen and the vistas along it are breathtaking.

Prairie Flats South WPA Neighbors Night Out

By Tom Kerr

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Are you interested in learning more about Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) in St. Croix County? Would you like to see some controlled burn equipment or ask questions about Waterfowl Production Area management?

On Thursday, Sept. 22, from 5 to 7 p.m. the Friends of the St. Croix Wetland Management District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be sponsoring a Friends and Neighbors Night Out at the Prairie Flats South Waterfowl Production Area.

The address is 2241 80th St. in New Richmond, which is located about three miles northeast of Somerset between County Road H and 220th Avenue. The event will be held at the service's maintenance facility just east of 80th Street.

The Prairie Flats South Waterfowl Production Area is approximately 502 acres in size and is comprised of restored native prairie, oak savanna and small prairie pothole type wetlands. The WPA provides valuable habitat for many species of wildlife including mallards, blue winged teal, pheasants, meadowlarks, bobolinks, red headed woodpeckers and many other species.

If you would like to try to spot some of these species, learn more about native prairie restoration and management or enjoy some of the other wildlife that use the Prairie Flats South WPA, stop in for the event.

For a map of the WPA or more information on the St. Croix Wetland Management District, check out our website