When a “for sale” sign went up on the small, empty lot at the edge of the small town of Lake Wilson, it brought renewed excitement for a group of volunteers who have been working to connect a trail. This lot sits right along a short, natural-surface segment of the Casey Jones State Trail and would provide an optimal trailhead. Acquiring a key parcel like this can spur movement on paving and extending the trail.
The Friends of the Casey Jones Trail wasted little time before taking action. One member offered to donate $2,500 to buy the land, and then the group quickly partnered with our staff to coordinate the deal. Shortly thereafter, in late August 2015, we closed on the land.
We will hold the land in trust, protecting its use for the trail until the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is ready to complete this section of the Casey Jones State Trail. The Friends plan to donate the land to the DNR when that time comes. But that may be a while as currently 3.5 miles of land needs to be acquired before this Lake Wilson segment connects with the Woodstock segment.
“Taking action to buy this small parcel is a bold move that we’re excited to be a part of,” said Brett Feldman, executive director of Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota. “It shows that the community really believes in this trail and will make a personal investment to get it done.” Local communities are often the driving force for building state trails because they see the benefits they bring to their community both for local recreation and in attracting users from across the state to visit.