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Wakefield council pledges new interest in Split Rock Trails


May 31, 2019


Wakefield — Advocates for Split Rock Trails in Wakefield received an added boost of support this week from the Wakefield City Council.

Tom Ritter, spokesman for the Split Rock Trails Association, provided the council with a slideshow demonstration on the trails before requesting multiple forms of support from council members and the community at large.

“The Section 10 properties are kind of unique,” said Ritter of the Fink location. “The elevation is kind of special.”

Owing to the site’s former use by the long-retired Sunday Lake Mine, Ritter said the land features “fantastic vistas,” as well as unusual geological features within its rock.

According to Ritter, a formal push for the SRTA trails started with members of the 2015 city planning commission.

A field study followed in 2016, followed by a geologic study in 2017. Under questioning by council member Jim Anderson, Ritter said the study did not include a geological survey, but he claimed it did conclude regarding any rock formations there, that “pretty much whatever was going to happen, as far as any movement, has happened.”

By the end of 2017, Ritter said 2.5 miles of trail were ready, with a little more length having been added since then. Three levels of trail difficulty are color-coded on a related trail map for hikers and bikers.

Ritter, who was supported by several other trail enthusiasts, said SRTA has managed to gather some trail funds from a snowshoeing event, sub sales, and from city-offered funds made possible through salvaging fallen trees after the city’s 2016 summer storm.

Ritter added, however, that the trails need a variety of additional support in order for SRTA to keep up with the costs of maintaining the system and possibly even expanding it.

“One time I figured the potential was nine (miles),” he said of possible growth.

According to Ritter, SRTA would benefit from the following help from the city and from local citizens in general:

—A city council resolution of support,

—Use of a city weed trimmer to keep trails clean,

—Volunteers for trail construction and maintenance,

—Community and business support, and

—Durable, wood-carved signs (“Laminated signs don’t last,” said Ritter).

Also welcome, said Ritter, would be donations from the public and help from the city with grants relating to trail development. “Having the city manager pursue grants for trail development is very important,” he said.

“There’s a lot of grants out there,” said council member Dale White, adding that city manager Rob Brown, who has extensive experience with trail work from his former employment downstate, is “informative about options.”

During public comment, Melinda Cross of Wakefield also volunteered to help with grants. “I just like to make things happen,” she said.

Ritter said SRTA’s ultimate goals are to gain greater presence within the U.P. Mountain Biking Association and also to meet the International Mountain Bike Standards.

Beyond that, he said, general safety is always a priority.

Loraine Mussatti, also in the audience, said persons using Eddy Park Campground have expressed interest in Split Rock Trails, so the goal is to create a map to guide potential trail users from that location to the nearby Split Rocks area.

At the close of Ritter’s presentation, mayor pro tempore Amy Tarro suggested that council members meet prior to a future meeting to check the trails, and other members agreed.

Ritter said SRTA is planning an Aug. 4 fundraiser at the new pavilion of Eddy Park on Sunday Lake, with live music donated by the band Flashback.


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