The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites anyone with an interest in the extension of the Root River State Trail from Houston to La Crescent to attend an open house in Houston on Tuesday, February 15, 2011. This meeting is the second of two that have been scheduled to discuss the master planning process for this trail segment, part of the Blufflands State Trail System.  DNR staff and volunteers working on the trail-planning effort will discuss the draft master plan, display maps and other trail information, and answer questions about the issues involved in moving toward trail development.

The meeting will be held at the Valley High Golf Club, 9203 Mound Prairie Road, Houston, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.  Short presentations will be given at 5:00 and 6:15, with opportunities for informal discussion throughout the evening. Landowners, potential trail users and area residents are urged to attend.

The Root River State Trail is one of the oldest and most popular rail-trails in Minnesota, meandering 42 miles alongside the Root River from Fountain to Houston. It is part of the larger Blufflands Trail System, which extends through Houston, Fillmore, Olmsted, and Winona counties. The Houston County Trails Committee has been working since the 1990s to extend the trail from Houston to La Crescent. From La Crescent, the trail would extend to and across the Mississippi River to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where it would connect to over a hundred miles of Wisconsin state trails. The trail extension is being planned to accommodate snowmobiles and horses in some locations, as well as bicycles and other nonmotorized activities.

The master plan must be completed and approved before any funds can be used for trail construction. The specific route for the trail south and west of La Crescent has not yet been determined, and no segments are yet in state ownership.

The draft master plan is posted on the DNR website,

DRBC members who live in Minnesota or who use the Root River Trail should attend if at all possible.

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