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New place to park for recreation

By September the Baldwin Area Department of Natural Resources hopes people will be able to enjoy more hiking, berry-picking and bird-watching on the wildlife area off of 130th Avenue in Warren Township by the Kinnikinnick Headwaters. And it is all because of a parking lot.

The Baldwin Area DNR is building a gravel parking lot off of 150th Street in Warren Township to allow people easier access to the DNR-owned land there for certain types of recreational use.

Mike Soergel, DNR wildlife technician, said this could include hunting, hiking, trapping, some fishing, bird watching, berry-picking snowshoeing, and other forms of non-motorized outdoors-based recreation.

"I just hope folks can appreciate the access point," Soergel said, "and realize the wildlife areas are for the wildlife. Enjoy the recreation, and hopefully the users don't take advantage and litter and vandalize the access point."

Soergel said there is now an access point off of 60th Avenue in Warren Township, but there is space for only one car on that access point, and additional cars have previously parked on part of the land intended for the wildlife.

Soergel said the goal this time is to "provide a spot for people to safely get off of the town road, so they can enjoy the property."

The 60-by-80 foot parking lot will be made of gravel, which both saves money and is better for the environment, Soergel said.

"There's nothing for the birds or the insects to utilize in the pavement," Soergel said, "whereas gravel, if they're not bothered, birds will actually use that as a grit source."

Soergel said the new parking area will provide an access point, help identify the public land as a recreational area and will have lower long term maintenance costs.

Soergel said there will be a sign placed which will identify the primary uses for the area, as well as uses that are prohibited.

"Motorized vehicles, horseback riding, target shooting, due to safety concerns. Things like that," Soergel said. "It's a non-motorized, nature-based recreational use."

Soergel said he has seen people dump all kinds of refuse on public land, that the DNR has then had to dispose of. Soergel said this included difficult-to-dispose of items like televisions with a picture tube.

"I always tell folks the wildlife areas are for wildlife, and there are certain recreational activities that are compatible with wildlife," Soergel said.

The parking area is funded through county conservation aid funding. According to Bob Heise, director of land, water and parks for St. Croix County, counties are allotted a certain amount of money annually that they can claim as grants, provided they can at least match the funds they require from the grant. Heise said this money can only be used for a fish and game related project.

Heise said this particular project is also funded through the Wisconsin DNR and the St. Croix County Sportsman's Alliance.

"It works because it provides the public access to a public resource," Heise said.

Soergel said the construction of the parking area has not yet begun, but it should be useable by September.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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