Updates and information about our current planning efforts in the Duluth Area


November 16, 2008

Present: Kurt Guidinger, Adam Sundberg, Del Erickson, Judy Gibbs, Erik Viken, Andy Holak, Julie Reichhoff, and John Green

Absent: Will Munger and Luke Sydow

Meeting called to order at 6:10pm by chairman of the board, Kurt Guidinger

-Discussion of the meeting schedule and unanimous decision to meet quarterly on the Sunday closest to the Solstice/Equinox (March, June, September, and November).

-Quorum will be considered to be 4 board members (9 members total)


-Discussion of how to fill the vacant position on the board. Decision to check with the X-Country Ski Club to see if a board member there would be willing to be on the DATA board. Kurt will contact members of that board.

-Discussion of “goals and objectives”. Potential need for a strategic planning session to explore the direction of our organization. Meeting ended with the feeling that we had a clear direction based on our action items and that this process may not be necessary at this point.

-City looking for a group to be “Friends of” trails and parks. Discussion of whether we could fulfill at least the trails role. When it comes to trails in Duluth, DATA’s role is clearly to help promote and facilitate the maintenance of existing trails as well as any new trails that might be developed. DATA acting as a “Friends” group for trails is a part of our mission and goals and objectives. In essence, DATA could be considered a “Friends” group for trails including those located within existing parks. As far as a “Friends” group for other park facilities like playground equipment, shelters, toilet facilities and those types of things, that may be beyond our scope. The exploration of developing a formal friends group to coordinate with the City should be moved forward.

-Adam brought up how to get started with action. Discussion of our roles and committees. Decision to focus on three.

  1. Communication Committee (between other like organizations including the City and members) Judy, Adam and Del
  2. Trail Building Committee to focus on Skyline Trail: Kurt, Judy, Del, Julie, John, Andy and Dave Dawkins. Also include Diane Desotelle who was heavily involved in the original SHT project in this area.
  3. Comprehensive Trail Plan Committee: Erik, Luke, Andy

-Andy raised the question of the role of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee which is already active. So, the current focus is on 4 action items which would include the active Bike/Walk Duluth committee chaired by Susan Koschak. The Communication Committee can also work on the “Friends of Duluth Trails” concept.

-Susan Koschak will present findings of strategic planning process developed by the Bike/Walk Duluth committee at our next board meeting.

-Discussion of how to move ahead with the Skyline Trail approval process.

-Discussed visibility of our organization and its importance. Ideas brought up were Western Waterfront Trail Extension, City liaison for trail maintenance, building the Skyline Trail, developing a Friends of Duluth Trails arm of DATA, and making plans for fundraising projects. Fundraising would also be a great way to increase the visibility of our organization while also raising funds. Should start exploring fundraising opportunities for the dual purpose of raising funds for our organization and increasing visibility. Should convene a fundraising committee meeting soon. Seek members who may be interested in a fundraising committee in addition to board members.

-John brought up possible financial resources available through the Lake Superior Coastal Program (grants)

-Erik with financial report: $971 in the bank plus $192.69 collected in Paypal for membership since 3/19/2008 and Andy’s not-yet submitted reimbursement for payments made in the process of submitting for our non-profit status.

-Meeting adjourned at 8:02 pm


Bike-Walk Duluth Committee Meeting – March 19, 2008

The Bike-Walk Duluth committee, DATA’s committee geared to improve bicycle and pedestrian transportation in the Duluth area, got off to a great start at its first strategic planning session. Session 1 of the planning process determined Values, Themes and Goals.vancouver03-05_0117.jpg

Six themes and goals were identified during the initial meeting:

Theme #1: Built environment and infrastructure

Goal: It’s safe and easy to ride a bike or walk anywhere in Duluth

Theme #2: Value-added attributes

Goal: Preserve and enhance scenic and natural cycling and walking routes

Theme#3: Bicycle support resources

Goal: Support, promote, and patronize local cycling and walking related businesses

Theme#4: Secure bicycle parking

Goal: Ample bicycle parking wherever it is needed

Theme #5: Health, wellness and community

Goal: Duluth is the most active and healthy city in the nation

Theme #6: Active transportation

Goal: Cycling and walking are the “first choice” modes of transportation for Duluth residents

The Bike-Walk Duluth Committee with follow with sessions addressing indicators, systems analysis, and measurements and actions. Final analysis and results of the 4-part comprehensive strategic planning process will be presented to DATA’s board of directors in early May and to all DATA members and the public shortly thereafter. Stay tuned!

Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Committee Meeting – January 30, 2008

Our first Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Committee meeting took place last Wednesday January 30.  We had a good group there and have some exciting stuff planned that we’ll need your help with in the very near future.

First of all, you’ll notice we’re no longer using bicycle commuting and alternative transportation committee.  We thought that name was just too long, so we’re going with a shorter name that speaks more clearly to what we’re trying to achieve.  So, we’ll be calling this committee something along the lines of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Committee of just Bike/Ped Committee.  Regardless of the name, this is the committee that will be working hard towards creating a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly city here in Duluth.  And, while we won’t be working much on alternative transportation issues like mass transit, light rail or those types of things, we will address improving access to mass transit.  This would mean working to improve routes to bus stops, or perhaps lobbying to increase the number of bus stops or even routes.

The primary item that came out of this meeting was the decision to embark on an exciting process of visioning and strategic planning to develop our vision or strategic plan for improving bicycle and pedestrian transportation in the City of Duluth.  Susan Koschak was nominated the Chair of this important committee and will be leading us through the strategic planning process. Her proposal is to lead us through a strategic planning process that will help us envision what we want Duluth to look like regarding bicycle and pedestrian transportation and will tell us exactly what steps we need to take to accomplish this vision.  The work that comes out of this process will provide us with concrete steps to take to begin accomplishing these goals.  

This is a very exciting process and something we can all have a vested interest in.  However, it WILL take work, and we need your help to accomplish this task.  To make this process work the best, we need to have a group of 10-15 people that can provide the inputs to the process.  We need those of you who fight the traffic everyday to get to work on your bike or on foot, those of you who want to walk to the bus stop or grocery store but find many obstacles in your path and those of you who have clear ideas what you’d like to see Duluth become to make it a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly place.  I’d venture to say that just about every one of you on this list would fit into one or more of these categories.  So, for the next two months, a commitment of basically 4-6 hours out of ~720 hours in the month is all that would be required.  You’re all welcome to be a part of this committee to make the planning process successful.  This is a grassroots effort, and we could use your help.  By the end of this planning process, we’ll have a plan, and we’ll begin to execute it.  You can be a part of that.

At the meeting we also discussed the 1994 Bicycle Plan that was developed.  As part of our planning process, we’ll also re-visit this plan to see what has been accomplished and what ideas were presented in that plan.

We’ll be providing updates on this process and Susan will be drafting agendas and a calendar to lay out the process and what will happen at each meeting.  Please contact Susan Koschak – – if you want to participate and/or show up at our next Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Committee meeting at 6:00 p.m. on February 27, 2008 at Chester Creek Cafe.  We’ll let you know as soon as possible if we have a change of venue, but we’ll stick to that date and time.

Trail Planning Meeting – January 23, 2008

Segment 23 Map

We had another very good trail planning meeting last night.  Thanks to all of you who braved the cold and parking challenges down in Canal Park to attend.

We had a rather large agenda, but were able to keep things moving and got to everything well before 8:00 p.m.  Here’s the scoop:

Trail Prioritization – we reviewed the 20 trails identified as high priority on the “big map.”  Nothing new to report here.

Western Waterfront Trail extension progress   – I met with Bill Majewski last week to discuss the history of the Western Waterfront Trail and look at trail routing.  The layout of the Western Waterfront Trail goes all the way back to 1979.  Maps and information about this layout should still be available in the City Planning office.  Bill suggested contacting Bob Bruce in City Planning to see if I can get access to these plans and discuss our proposal to begin developing this trail extension.  I’ve left a message with Bob at City Planning and have yet to hear back from him.  A visit to the City Planning office is likely in order.

Bill also informed me that Morgan Park is currently working on a strategic plan and have identified the Western Waterfront Trail extension to Morgan Park as a priority.  Kurt offered to contact the Morgan Park folks and find out when their next planning meeting will take place.  DATA will explore assisting with the Morgan Park planning process as it relates to the Western Waterfront Trail extension.  In addition, Community Development Block Grant funding may be available to assist with the trail development if it is identified as a high priority through Morgan Park’s strategic planning process.

There was some discussion about the surface of the trail.  Some suggested that having a paved trail would allow for more uses of the trail including inline skates and skinny tired bicycles.  DATA has viewed the Western Waterfront as remaining consistent with the existing trail and developing the extension with a crushed limestone surface.  This surface would allow most uses including wheelchairs and wider tired bikes, would cost less, would not be an impervious surface and may be easier to develop considering the trails proximity to the river.  Unless there is intense public support for a paved trail, DATA would prefer to see this trail developed as a crushed limestone surface.  It could be developed into a paved trail in the future as well.
Another topic that came up was the possibility of adding this route to the groomed ski trails in the City.  Of course, this would be up to the City unless there was a way for the ski club or DATA to groom it with their own equipment at some point.  It would make a nice ski route and link up several communities along the river.  It’s a great idea if it can be made feasible.  Certainly a good segment to consider for a future cross-town ski trail.

Identifying Trail Use and Trail Type on our Prioritization Form
– To complete the prioritization form, we need to fill in the blanks identifying trail use and trail type.  At the meeting we discussed developing a criteria for determining trail use for a proposed trail.  This criteria would make the process of determine trail use straightforward and allow us to easily explain why that trail allowed a specific trail use.  Once trail use has been determined, trail type (i.e. singletrack, crushed limestone, paved, etc.) would also be easier to determine.  Criteria we came up with initially are:

  • Emphasis will be on shared use trails
  • Trail should accommodate most traditional trail uses of the neighborhood where the trail is being developed
  • Where a trail spur has at least one termini that dead ends at or on a foot travel only trail or other dedicated use trail, that trail spur will be designated foot travel only as well or designated for whatever dedicated use occurs on the main trail (for the most part, this criteria will apply to foot travel only trails like the SHT or other city trails that only allow foot travel).
  • Trails will be designed for human powered shared uses such as walking, hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog walking, and wheelchairs where feasible.
  • There should be a variety of trail segments to accommodate all ages and abilities, encouraging a wide range or trail users.

So far, these are the criteria we’ll use for determining types of trail use on our proposed trails.  Please take a little time to review them and let me know if you’d like to see any of the above wording changed or any criteria added.  We’d appreciate the input.

Guiding Principles for Trail System – The above criteria would be part of a set of guiding principles for our trail system.  We decided it would be a good idea to develop guiding principles for development of our trail system.  These guiding principles would also be part of a comprehensive trail plan we hope to develop and have the City adopt.  Development of this trail plan remains a priority.  These guiding principles would include things like Trail Siting, Location and Access, Trail Use, Trail Conflicts, Trail Design, Ecological Considerations and Management and Maintenance Techniques.  I’ve already got a good start on this, and I’ll post a copy of these guiding principles for your review as soon as they are completed.

Segment 23 Development – The previous two items lead us to one of the more exciting developments from our meeting.  The group decided to begin planning for the development of Segment 23 which has commonly been referred to as the SHT North Split Route.  Based on the criteria we discussed for identifying trail use, this segment will be developed as a shared use path between the Twin Ponds parking lot and Kenwood Avenue with a proposal to run through Chester Bowl to a parking lot in Chester Park.  The trail has a good western termini at the Twin Ponds parking lot and eastern termini at Kenwood Ave. or in Chester Park.

As a group, we decided that moving ahead with development of this segment along with the Western Waterfront Trail extension would make sense.  Development of the Western Waterfront Trail will likely involve heavy equipment and may require contract work.  Most likely, there won’t be a lot of work done by volunteers with pulaskis and mcleods.  Conversely, Segment 23 will be a much narrower dirt path and development would be done by volunteers with pulaskis and macleods.  This will be a great opportunity for those itching to build some trail to get out and swing some pulaskis and really energize the trail community.  It will also be a great opportunity to bring together different user groups to develop a trail in unison.  It will provide a great opportunity for hikers to stay up on the hill and walk from one end of Duluth to the other while staying up high on the ridge and taking in some more great views.

Much of the planning for this segment has already been completed.  A route almost entirely on public land has been identified.  We will need to review land ownerships and reconnect with those land owners to begin the process of acquiring authorizations to cross these properties with this trail.  There should be a lot of support for this segment and it would be great to start developing this trail this summer.  I will begin working with Diane Desotelle to dig up the work that has already been completed for this segment and start the planning process again.

Interactive Trail Map – I’m working on developing an interactive trail map of the trails that are currently on the ground including all the City trails, Spirit Mtn. Trails, Piedmont trails, SHT, Jay Cooke trails and the neighborhood trails that have been GPS’d but are not official trails.  I’m trying to use Google Maps as the base for this, but am having a little trouble getting it to work.  If anyone has any suggestions or experience doing this, let me know.

Trail Summit – DATA would like to sponsor a trail summit sometime towards the end of April bringing together all the trail groups, government representatives, developers and other trail enthusiasts.  See the previous meeting notes for more details.  We’ll Begin planning for this soon.

Commuting and Alternative Transportation Committee Meeting – this meeting will be next Wednesday, January 30 at Chester Creek Cafe – 6:00 p.m.  Hope to see some of you there!  It also might not be a bad idea to begin thinking of a new name for the committee.  The current name is kind of long and I have a hard time spitting it out when talking to people about it.

Next Trail Planning Meeting will be Thursday February 21 at 6:00 p.m.  We will most likely meet at Chester Creek Cafe.


Trail Planning Meeting – November 20, 2007

DATA Prioritization Form – 11/20/07

Duluth Conceptual Trails

Thanks again to those who attended last night’s trail planning meeting. We had a nice sized group and were able to move through the agenda and get some things done.

Trail Planning
The first item discussed was the prioritization process and the ranking of 20 trails segments as high priority. I will post the latest trail prioritization form which shows each trail segment’s ranking – high, medium or low and the latest map on our website – Also added were two additional trail segments – segment 96, Jean Duluth Connector trail which provides a shared use linkage in the Jean Duluth area and segment 97, Oliver – Mont du Lac trail which links Oliver to Mont du Lac through remote, forested hills of uncertain ownership. Both trail segments add to the overall conceptual trail plan. It was decided that we won’t further rank the top 20 trail segments, but discuss their potential for development as the process progresses and trail segments are developed and new trail segments emerge as high priorities. Much of the development potential for these trails will stem from volunteer and community support, land ownership, and new developments which might put a trail corridor at risk. All of these factors will be considered when moving to support the development of a new trail.

Trail Development for 2008
We had a discussion about identifying a trail to be planned for and developed next year. A good discussion ensued about a couple of trails that have been discussed as good candidates for trail development soon. The SHT North Split Route (#23) was considered as a possibility since most of the planning has already been done for this trail, a route identified, contacts made, and maps developed. This trail was originally intended to be the route of the SHT before the decision to use the Lakewalk for the SHT was made. So, in essence, the route was intended to be a hiking segment of the SHT. Several folks felt that there would be more support from the community as a whole if this segment were developed as a shared use trail. It would still provide the linkage between segments of the SHT, but would be open for other uses as well. Segment #23 terminates at Twin Ponds parking area on the west end and Kenwood Ave. on the east end, so it could work as a shared use trail since it doesn’t terminate directly on the SHT. Making this segment a shared use trail may slow down the planning and development process since all the work that has been completed up to this point assumed the trail would be part of the SHT and be a hiking trail. To make the trail shared use might involve starting all over with the process. Due to some of these concerns, it was decided this might not be the best project to start with. It would be good to have further discussion about whether this trail segment should be part of an SHT extension or could be developed as a shared use trail. Comments on our website regarding this trail proposal would be welcome and a great place to share our thoughts on this subject.

The Western Waterfront Trail extension was then discussed as a trail proposal to pursue in 2008. It was felt by all present that this would be a great trail project to pursue since it would likely be very well received by the community, would be shared use and accessible for wheelchairs, would be a significant addition to the trail system, would connect neighborhoodds and be close to several neighborhoods thus supporting our goal to have a trail within 15 minutes of every home in Duluth (it would support this goal for many homes in several neighborhoods), might be easier to develop since it’s primarily a rail grade type trail, would be a great accomplishment, would utilize mostly public land, would be a highly visible project, and is one of our high priority trail segments. So, we’ll begin by contacting the City Planning Department to let them know of our intentions to develop this trail segment, and then start rallying support from the community, raising funds and wading through the planning process. I don’t know about you all, but I’m getting excited about the prospect of developing this new trail segment, the new recreation opportunities it will offer and the opportunity to showcase what DATA can accomplish.

The Willard Munger Trail extension is currently in the planning stages and DATA will be supporting this process. The East Lakewalk extension is also moving along and they’ll be breaking ground soon. DATA also supports this project.

Mountain Bike Trails in the Piedmont area
Just provided an update about the newly authorized mountain bike trails being developed in the Piedmont area. This trail will be almost 9 miles in length and has been authorized by St. Louis County.
GPS Trails
We still have some areas that need to be GPS’d. Please visit our website to see which areas these are – . I have heard from a couple of people that they’d like to go out and GPS some trails with their units, but are not confident in their ability to use them effectively yet. So, I’m considering spending a few hours on an upcoming weekend to go to a site that needs to be GPS’d and provide a little training on how to get a trackfile from your GPS. If anyone is interested in this, let me know and I’ll schedule a date for this. GPSing trails right now is great unless we get snow.
Forming Commuting and Alternative Transportation Committee
A new commuting committee is being formed to discuss and begin planning a strategy for commuting, bicycle lanes and other alternative transportation related issues in Duluth. Susan brought up some current efforts promoting commuting and alternative tranportation including Arrive Minnesota and Bikes Belong. She pointed out that we should study what has been working in the Twin Cities and other communities and utilize a lot of the good work they’re doing since they’ve already been through the process we are embarking on. Chris pointed out that a lot of this work has been done in Duluth already but that when the rubber meets the road, the departments responsible for planning and building streets and roads forget about the commuting and alternative transportation components. It will take a concerted effort to stay on top of any project that might involve commuting and bike lanes. Stay tuned for a meeting sometime in early January.
Magney-Snively Trails
The Magney-Snively area was brought up as a possibility for a location for a shared use trail open to mountain bikes. The Duluth Natural Area program and the Magney-Snively area’s status as the first designated Duluth Natural Area was brought up and it was mentioned that this status might complicate the process of developing any additional trails in this area. No one had a lot of information about the natural areas program. More information about this program may be found here:

501c3 Status and Grants
Eric brought up the importance of DATA gaining 501c3 status from the IRS. This will allow DATA to begin fundraising and accept tax-deductible donations. Eric mentioned seeking grant dollars to help fund the comprehensive trail planning process and stressed the importance of supporting and helping to develop a comprehensive trail plan as a way to add another layer of protection to our trail corridors. Developing a comprehensive trail plan remains one of DATA’s highest priorities.

Some grant possibilities that were raised included the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation and the MN Power Foundation – both of which accept grant proposals at any time throughout the year. If anyone has any additional ideas for funding sources and/or would like to help develop our fundraising program or write grants, please let me know.

Trail Summit
Finally, we discussed the idea of hosting a Duluth trail summit which would include representatives from the mountain biking, road biking, commuting, inline skating, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and trail running communities as well as representatives from the City of Duluth and St. Louis County and of course DATA. We also thought it would be a great idea to include developers who might be interested in trail development in Duluth. This summit would bring these groups together to discuss their goals, how we can work together, what constraints we see, what opportunities exist and how the process of developing trails in Duluth works. We thought a solid one day event would probably work. It would be very low budget and low key and would essentially be a meeting of the minds. An early spring date is being considered if we can pull things together quickly enough. It shouldn’t be too hard to do if we keep it simple and low key. Finding a location for the meeting would be important, preferably a location that wouldn’t cost much or anything and would be able to accomodate a fairly good sized group.

If anyone that was at the meeting can add anything else that I might have missed please do so.

Our next trail planning meeting is scheduled for Wednesday January 23, 2008. Yes, 2008! I’d like to start the planning process for the Western Waterfront Trail soon. Tuesdays won’t work well for me for the remainder of the winter so we’ll shoot for Wednesday unless nobody can show up on that day.

Trail Prioritization – August 14, 2007

DATA Trail Prioritization Form – 8/14/07

We had a very short meeting last night, primarily discussing the trail prioritization process and reviewing the prioritization form.

Based on all of the input we’ve recieved in e-mails, input from our previous meetings and the Ballotbin process, I went ahead and ranked all of our identified proposed trail segments. We used high, medium or low to rank the trails. I used the input mentioned previously to determine what trails should be ranked as high priority trail segments. Based on this input, we had 20 trail segments identified as high priority. The remainder of the trail segments were ranked either medium or low. Please click on the link above to see an updated version of the Trail Prioritization Form

The next step is for all of you to take some time to review the rankings and let us know if there are trail segments that should be ranked higher or lower for whatever reason. After that, we should take some time at a meeting to rank the high priority trails 1 through 20. Once this process is completed, we can start the process to begin developing these trails on the ground!

Please e-mail me with any comments you have regarding trail prioritization. Check the website periodically for any updates and our next meeting date. Also, we’ve got a few more areas GPS’d, and need to cover quite a few more areas. Let me know if you’re interested in helping out with the existing trail GPS process.

July 17, 2007 Meeting Notes

We had a relatively small turn out at our last trail planning meeting (understandable with summer activities – a good excuse for my lateness in sending this note out as well…), but were able to get some good work done nonetheless. Most of the meeting was spent discussing the Amity Creek mountain bike trails and related issues surrounding the sale of public land in the City of Duluth.

As many of you may know, several Duluth Area Trails Alliance folks have been working behind the scenes to help create an authorized network of mountain bike trails in the Amity Creek area. There is currently a great network of trails in that area that have been nurtured and maintained by a number of area mountain bikers. The City of Duluth tentatively agreed to make these trails into an official mountain bike area (someone please correct me if I’ve messed up any of these details). Based on some research done while Sam Cook was preparing his article for the July 15 Sunday News-Tribune, we discovered that a large chunk of land that those trails were on has been sold for a housing development. This news was obviously very disappointing to say the least. The only positive thing here is that the land was sold to HRA which is a City program. We’re hoping now that we can work with the City and HRA (Housing Redevelopment Authority) to ensure that many of those trails on the land that was sold are preserved through easements, and that we can still have a solid trail system in that area.

The Amity Creek example is just one of many trail systems or corridors threatened by land sale and subsequent development. In a recent auction, a parcel of land was sold adjacent to Enger Park that cuts off the very important Coffee Creek Trail corridor (trail #24 on the prioritization form). In an upcoming land auction, St. Louis County is planning to sell two parcels, one in West Duluth that will cut off the Macarthur School Spur Trail corridor (trail #51) and one in Morgan Park that will cut off two trail corridors, the Morgan Park Trail West corridor (trail #73) and the Morgan Park School connector (trail #68). Those who appreciate green space and look to preserve these corridors for trails and recreation should be concerned about the rate at which public land/tax-forfeit land in Duluth is being sold. DATA will work with developers if the parcels are sold to see if we can maintain trail corridors, but we’re losing these areas at a pace that is hard to keep up with at this time. These examples point out a critical need for a comprehensive trail plan in Duluth.

At our last meeting, we discussed our strategy to help address this situation. Number 1, we’ve already set up a meeting with City Planning Director Bob Bruce to discuss this situation and how DATA plans to operate. To address the Amity Creek trails specifically, we’re planning to set up a meeting with city councilor Laurie Johnson. Number 3, we plan to begin aggressively working on getting a comprehensive city trail plan developed and approved by the City. We will discuss this with Bob Bruce as well. Number 4, again to specifically address the Amity Creek trails issue, we will begin working with the HRA after meeting with Bob Bruce and Laurie Johnson.

We also addressed the trail prioritization issue. As a group, we decided to send out a Ballotbin ballot listing all 95 trail corridors and asking our members (those on our mailing list at this point) to pick their top 10 high priority trails based on the criteria described on the trail prioritization form. The information compiled here will then be combined with all of the data we’ve already developed to rank all 95 trail corridors giving them a high, medium or low ranking. This process should be completed prior to our next scheduled trail planning meeting.

As for a date for our next trail planning meeting, I’d like to set it up for sometime in the middle of August. How does Tuesday August 14 sound? We’ll try to meet again at Chester Creek Cafe.

June 12 Meeting Notes

New West Central Duluth Trails Map

New Trail Prioritization Form

We had a good turnout for our June 12 Trail Planning meeting, and got some good work done on trail prioritization.

At the meeting, we briefly discussed the new committees that DATA is forming to help with organizational planning. We’re inviting everyone to volunteer for one or more committees. This will be the first of many opportunities to volunteer your time, talent and expertise to help create a grand and unprecedented trail network in the Duluth area. The five DATA committees are:
Trail Planning and Authorization Committee – This committee is basically the one that has been meeting for the last several months identifying and prioritizing the trail corridors in the Duluth area. This committee will be responsible for trail planning, working with land owners and developing methods for getting trails officially recognized on the ground through trail authorizations, easements or other methods. This will be a very important committee in the current phase of our organization and ongoing as we begin working with land owners to get our trails authorized on the ground. So, basically if you’ve been coming to our trail planning meetings and helping with the trail identification and prioritization process, you’re on the Trail Planning Committee!
Trail Building, Maintenance and Signing – This committee will be very important once the “pulaski meets the dirt” and we start building our new trail network. This committee will help coordinate trail building, maintenance and signing, determining construction and maintenance schedules and dealing with signing. Signing a trail system like we envision will be a very important process. This committee will help develop sign standards, sign design, sign location and sign maintenance. At this time, this committee won’t be very busy, but will hopefully be soon.
Membership and Volunteer Recruitment Committee – This committee will help to develop our membership base, determine membership levels and fees and help recruit new members and eventually new volunteers to help with trail building and other organizational task. This committee will also help coordinate volunteers for various tasks, primarily for trail building and maintenance. Volunteer orientation and training will also be a component of this committee. This committee is needed right now to help develop our membership base and work on determining membership levels and fees.
Public Relations, Special Events and Health Awareness Committee – This committee will help with public relations and marketing – developing brochures and other marketing materials, advertising, media relations and other promotional activities. This committee will also help plan special events and other fundraisers. The health awareness component will help address how to promote the health aspects of accessible trails and other active events that DATA produces and how to increase the awareness of health in the Duluth area. Working with local hospitals and other medical institutions to promote the development of programs that will better the health of the citizens of our communities will be another focus of this committee.
Fund Raising and Finance Committee – This committee will help develop a fundraising plan for DATA and also assist with fund raising activities like contacting private donors, business donors, developing partnerships with businesses and othe organizations, assisting with fund raisers, and identifying grant opportunities and assisting with grant writing. This committee will also work with the board Treasurer to help manage DATA’s budget.
So, that’s a list and brief description of the committees. If you decide to help out with a committee, you won’t have to do everything listed in the description, just find a place where you can use your expertise to help out. The descriptions are broad, and some of the tasks identified may also be the responsibility of staff if DATA gets to that point.

At the meeting we also got a good start on prioritizing trails, focusing on the high priority trails. Going from east to west and also incorporating the input from people who sent me a list of their high priority trails, these were the trails that were identified as high priority trails. The trails are listed by ID# from the trail prioritization form:


Obviously that’s already a pretty large list of high priority trails. We’d like to narrow the list down to no more than 20 and also a top 10 of really high priority trails that should be developed as soon as possible. On the prioritization form you will see a list of criteria that could be used to help determine how to prioritize a trail. For example, when I looked at prioritizing a trail, I considered whether a trail was at-risk or not one of my most important criteria for a high priority trail. A trail might be considered at-risk if the area it goes through is planning to be sold or developed. I will send out another separate e-mail soon asking you to provide DATA with your list of highest priority trails.

Another trail was added – Trail segment #95 – Heritage Center Trail connecting the SHT and proposed Willard Munger extension to the new Heritage Center. We also extended the DWP trail east into west Duluth proper following the old rail alignment. All total, 152.7 miles of new trail are proposed with the longest segment being the DWP trail at 9.85 miles. I will post a new WestCentral Duluth map showing the recent changes and a new Prioritization form with the Heritage Center Trail added.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday July 17. We’ll probably shoot for 6:00 p.m. again and it will likely be at Chester Creek Cafe. That’s all for now. I’ll be out of town for two weeks, so the website probably won’t be updated for a little while.

April 17 Meeting Notes and Trail Planning Maps and Form

DATA Prioritization Form ALL Trails

Far West Duluth Trails

West Duluth Trails

West Central Duluth Trails

Central Duluth Trails

Far East Duluth Trails

Despite the confusion, we had a nice turnout at our last meeting and completed the trail identification process. Please go to the News section on the DATA Dirt website ( ) to review the completed maps and trail prioritization form. Remember that our proposed/conceptual trails are in yellow with numbers that correspond to the prioritization form. Existing trails are in red, the SHT is in green, Snowmobile trails are purple, Spirit Mtn trails are blue, Willard Munger trail is light green and streams are shown in light blue. I didn’t include the public parcel layer or all of the existing unofficial trails that have been GPS’d recently. I thought that might make things too cluttered and difficult to read. The pdf maps can be zoomed in quite a ways to get a better look at the trails. Zooming in too far will blur the aerial photo however.

What I’d like everyone to do is take some time and look at the maps and prioritization form. Also take some time to think about the trails you’re most familiar with – talk to your trail friends, get input from anyone you know that is familiar with trails and start thinking about how YOU would prioritize the proposed/conceptual trail corridors on the maps. We had a good discussion at the meeting about how to go about the trail prioritization process.

Many at the meeting thought we should try and reach out to a broader audience and try to get input from more people who might be more familiar with trails in various parts of the city. I’d like to get more suggestions about how to go about the prioritization process. Are we ready yet to start trotting our map out to the public? Are we ready to take on the naysayers who will say it can’t be done, it shouldn’t be done or it will interfere with development? Are we ready for the NIMBY’s (not in my backyard) and the segment of the public who will disagree with our trail alignments and freak out when they see a proposed trail through their property or on land near their home? I would say we definitely are not prepared for this. We still need to discuss our plans with the City and particularly with the Trails Committee. In that vein, I will be setting up a meeting with Dean Grace who is the chair of the Trails Committee in the very near future. We need to get them on board before we do anything, especially before we start trotting out maps with yellow lines all over the city. I think all of us here will agree that what we’re doing is a great idea and is perhaps overdue. But, there will be a LOT of detractors, and we have to be prepared for them. How we alleviate concerns about private property, tax-forfeit land, trail location, trail use and other concerns will be critical to our success and have to be addressed before we release our maps to the general public. Discussing our organization and our goals and objectives is certainly a good idea and we should start getting into more detail about our trails with our trail friends and other clubs as was suggested at the meeting.

Along those lines, the Duluth Budgeteer news interviewed me last week about DATA. It should be in this weekends Budgeteer. I was so energized talking about what we’re doing that I could barely stop talking and let the reporter ask me a question! I also gave a powerpoint presentation to the West Duluth Business Club about DATA and our plans that I think was fairly well received. So we are slowly getting the word out about DATA and it is starting to find it’s own legs. Hopefully soon we can start really getting the word out and recruiting members.

Everyone at the meeting last Tuesday agreed that we need to convene our new Board of Directors very soon. Again congratulations to our new Board and to all who were nominated! Our Board will be providing direction for DATA and setting our course. We decided that before we finalize the prioritization process and have another trail planning meeting, the Board should meet. Hopefully the Board can meet sometime early to mid-May.

We didn’t set another meeting date for the trail planning group. We’ll set a date after the board meeting, perhaps towards the end of May. In the meantime the non-profit paperwork is being submitted and we’ll be waiting to hear from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation about the status of our small grant that was applied for and accepted for review. I’m also continuing to receive GPS data for existing trails in Duluth and getting them into the database, and I’ll be going out and GPSing some additional trails. Let me know if you have any GPS data you would like to get me. I’ll be sure to post our next DATA meeting date as soon as it’s been decided. Hope to see you out on the trails soon!

March 15 DATA Meeting Notes and Prioritization Maps and Form

DATA Priority Form – March 15, 2007

DATA Map – March 15, 2007 Meeting

Thanks again to all of you who showed up at last Thursday’s meeting and provided your great input! I think we had another productive meeting and are very close to being completed with the trail identification phase of the trail prioritization process. We actually only have 7 trails yet to complete! Should be a breeze to finish these in April and move on to prioritizing the trails.

We had a good discussion regarding the board of directors as well. First of all, I want to thank all of you who accepted nominations to serve on the DATA board. I really was very happy to see the number of great people nominated for the board and accepting nominations!

The group on Thursday discussed the size of the board and the merits of a smaller board. Our by-laws state that the board must be at least 7 members and no more than 15. We determined that 9 would be a good size for the board. The by-laws further state that board members serve 3 year terms and are eligible for up to 3 consecutive terms. So a board member may serve up to 9 years if they choose and are re-elected to the board. In order to ensure that we don’t have all 9 board members going off the board at the same time if they all served 3 consecutive 3 year terms, we will have to determine a way to have 3 board members serve one term (3 yrs), 3 board members serve 2 terms (6 yrs) and 3 board members serve 3 terms (9 yrs). This way, the board will be staggered and new people will have the opportunity to serve on the board if they so choose. A board size of 9 worked well for this scenario. Of course, it will be up to the board once elected to decide exactly how this process will be carried out. Also, it should be noted that a former board member may again serve on the board after being off the board for one term.

We’ve received 16 nominations for the board, so I will be sending out a separate e-mail with the names of the board nominees listed and a short description of their experience. I’ll determine exactly how we’ll do this process in the e-mail I send out, but members will vote for the 9 people they would like to see serve on DATA’s inaugural board of directors. Each member will have only one chance to vote on the board. Look for this e-mail shortly.

As I said earlier, we’re very close to finishing the trail identification process. There are only 7 more trail corridors to look at. At our next meeting, I’d like to finish the identification process and then discuss how we’ll go about prioritizing the trails. This will be a little more complicated process and may involve some give and take. Perhaps even some fisticuffs (just joking:-). Or maybe wrestling. We have some preliminary criteria to go by for each trail, but we’ll have to look more closely at the criteria as we get into the prioritization process. So, be thinking hard about how we will carry out the prioritization process for next meeting.

I’ve attached the prioritization form for the trails we identified last week along with the map showing the corresponding numbered trails. Please take a look at this and see if there are any mistakes and start thinking about prioritization.

We decided to meet again in April on Thursday. So, our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday April 19, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. and once again at Gander Mountain. I’m aware of another club that meets the second Thursday of every month at Gander Mtn, so we’ll meet the third Thursday in April. Thanks again everyone for all your support and input! See you in April!

DATA Trail Planning Map

DATA Planning Map

This is the map we’ve been using for our trail planning. It shows the proposed trails we’d like to see developed to connect our neighborhoods in yellow, existing official city trails, the Superior Hiking Trail, Spirit Mountain trails, Willard Munger Trail, snowmobile trails and a portion of the Jay Cooke State Park trails. There are many other layers we can turn off and on with this map to show greater detail, including the existing unofficial Duluth trails that we’ve been inventorying recently with GPS.


DATA Trail Prioritization Form

Trail Prioritization Map – 2/15/07

Thanks again to everyone that showed up at the last meeting and provided some great input! We had another productive meeting and should be finishing up the trail identification process over the next two meetings.

As an update, we are finishing up paperwork for establishing non-profit status. I will try to have the by-laws completed tomorrow as well. If anyone would like to take a look at or review the by-laws, please let me know. I am using a template for the by-laws and making minor adjustments to it, so it should be pretty straightforward.

Establishing our Board of Directors is the next very important step in the organizational process. I will be sending a separate e-mail shortly to address this important issue.

We had a discussion at the meeting regarding membership. Eventually, we will be actively recruiting members to support our organization’s mission and goals and objectives. In the meantime, we discussed our current membership situation. For purposes of voting for or nominating directors to our Board, we need some sort of membership base. As it stands now, we agreed that everyone on our current e-mail list and those that have been attending our DATA meetings should be considered members. I will consider all of you members in good standing unless I hear from you otherwise. So, welcome to DATA!!! Glad to have you aboard! Anyway, let me know if you’re not interested in being a member. Being a member at this point will entail nothing from you other than your support of what we’re doing. We’ll be asking for the big bucks and contributions later! Just joking…

At the meeting we discussed a conversation I had with the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation about a new grant we will be applying for in April. It’s a relatively small grant, but could hopefully cover the costs of establishing the non-profit and maybe the first phase of developing a trail plan for the City to approve. With all of the work we’ve been putting in on the trail prioritization process, it will be essential that we get this information in a solid trail plan that the City will acknowledge. This plan should have lots of support with the City Council, but we need fund the plan and get it done.

Since our last meeting lots of people have been out GPSing trails throughout the City. I’ve gotten lots of great tracks that I’ve been able to incorporate into our big trail map that we’ve been working with. These trails are generally footpaths, mountain bike singletrack or other tracks that people have been using for years but aren’t official designated or developed trails. Many of these routes can be used when we get to our implementation phase and start building some of the trails we’ve been identifying and prioritizing. On the map I have attached you will see orange tracks. These orange trails are the GPS tracks that I’ve gotten and uploaded to the map. So, you’ll see the yellow conceptual trails that we’ve numbered and identified on the trail prioritization form, red existing trails, the green route of the SHT and maybe some purple snowmobile trails as well as the orange GPS tracks.

Also attached is the trail prioritization form showing the trails we identified at the meeting on Tuesday. I’ve taken a stab at adding some criteria on the form. As we get into prioritizing the trails, we’ll look closer at the criteria. Also, I’ve added three additional criteria to the form based on a couple of the things we talked about at our last meeting. I’ve added “Scenic Value,” “Enhances Natural Resource,” and “Educational Enhancement.”

Take a look at the attached map and prioritization form. When you look at them, especially if you’re familiar with the area, start thinking about how you might prioritize these trails.

Our next meeting will be Thursday March 15 at 6:00 p.m. We’ll meet again at Gander Mountain. They had a screen, a nice big white wall to project our map on and it was a free meeting location. Hope to see many of you there!

I talked with Bryan French today, and he suggested we set up a DATA blog so we can get updated information out to people and have a web prescence. I have put together a free geocities webpage for DATA, but I need to update it, and it isn’t very easy to update, nor does it look very good. I think the blog will make for a nice interactive place to go for DATA information. So, be looking for the DATA blog soon! If you have a good name for the blog site, let me know. Right now I’ve got – “Data Dirt” – the blog of the Duluth Area Trails Alliance. Dirt means “scoop” what’s going, etc. Also, it can symbolize getting our hands dirty and building trails, using trails, getting out and getting it done!

That’s all for now! Hope everyone has a great weekend and a great winter break if you’re heading off anywhere during the Duluth School break.

Happy Trails!


8 responses

1 03 2007

Go ahead and post any comments whenever you feel like it!

1 03 2007

Nice blog Andy! thanks for all the hard work.

2 03 2007

This is a wonderful organizational tool and the project itself seems clearly described and on a great path.



7 03 2007

Added the trail planning map (3/7/07) we’ve been using in our meetings. See above. Click on it to view.

13 03 2007
Larry Holak

Andy – Looks like you’re really putting alot of work & time into this organization. Lots of good ideas. Hope everybody gets out to help.

Good job – Larry

14 03 2007

Thanks Dad! There are a lot of good people helping out!

25 01 2008
Notes from 1/23 Trail Planning Meeting Posted « DATA Dirt!

[…] Trail Planning […]

3 12 2008
DATA Board Meeting Minutes Posted « DATA Dirt!

[…] Planning […]

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