Board approves hiring crew to clean Garvin Park horse trails

In an effort to move forward with cleaning up horse trails at Garvin Park after storms earlier this year, the Lyon County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 2 unanimously approved hiring a work crew form the Minnesota Conservation Corps.
“Staff did a good job of cleaning up the campground and hiking trails; horse trails are a little more difficult to attend to in part because of the difficulty of getting our equipment to certain areas,” Lyon County Environmental Officer Roger Schroeder told the board Tuesday. “(The trails) could use a little bit of TLC.”
Schroeder estimates that about one-fourth of the trails are not passable at this time because of fallen trees or slope washouts. However, the extent of improvements exceeds staff availability to complete before the conclusion of this year’s camping season.
The crews include five members who work 10-hour days, Monday through Thursday. The cost is $1,275 per day, plus $20 per person, per day for food. Crews come in with saws, hand tools, sprayers and camping gear and will be put up in the primitive campgrounds at no charge.
Hiring a crew for 12 days (three weeks) would cost $16,500, but the County would only be on the hook for $9,500 of that. The Minnesota Horse Council and Minnesota Trail Riders Association will pitch in $7,000 toward the clean-up.
The request to hire the MCC crew was made to help clear and improve horse riding trails, some that were impassable after early-summer storm events that brought down numerous trees at the park.
Schroeder said most of the trees that were felled over trails are of the smaller variety, but they are large enough to force riders to veer off the trails.
“A lot of the trees are on the ground, but one of the issues with that is we can’t get a service vehicle down there if we need to spray,” Schroeder said. “It’s one of the things that we just don’t have the priority with the existing workload that we have.”
County Commissioner Steve Ritter asked if the request for funds will take care of the remainder of the clearing of the horse trails.
“We think so,” Schroeder responded. “Their availability — they’re looking at mid-September or October.”
Commissioners agreed to subsidize the project so the clean-up goes to fruition this year.
“These are county parks, and we’re obligated to take care of them,” Commissioner Paul Graupmann said.
Schroeder said workers will be onsite rain or shine. They wouldn’t remove the trees, but move them to the side of the trail to allow County equipment access to damaged areas.
“In the process, if they were able to, on the main roads, widen (the trails) we would be able to get our splitter back there,” said Schroeder.

In other news from Tuesday …
• The board denied an invitation to attend an Aug. 9 meeting with Redwood County commissioners regarding the ongoing JD 15 Drainage Authority dispute. In a letter to Lyon County dated July 29, 2022, the Redwood County Board of Commissioners made its desire known to hold a joint meeting to discussion the composition of the JD 15 Drainage Authority. According to a document filed in State District Court, the joint boards met on April 12, 2022, for the purpose of appointing two new members from Redwood County after the two Redwood County members resigned, leaving just three members on the board — all from Lyon County. Members of Redwood County refused to fill the vacancies in the Drainage Authority unless the Lyon County Board agreed to appoint three members from Redwood County and two from Lyon County to act as the Drainage Authority.
The July 29 letter from Redwood County states that the composition of the JD Ditch Authority Board has always been based on which county has the majority of the benefitted lands, and that the counties have amended representation on the JD 15 Board to be consistent with changing majorities in the past.
Lyon County Commissioner Rick Maes said the letter is “ammunition to prepare for the court hearing, so they can say, ‘Well look, we offered to meet and Lyon County’s refusing. Well, that’s not the case.”
This Tuesday’s agenda showed that the boards were to discuss the issue by telephone that day, but that call never took place.
A Redwood County commissioner on Tuesday declined to comment to the Tracy Area Headlight Herald, opting instead to discuss things with fellow board members before doing so.
• The board approved the following hirings: Justen Lanoue, building and grounds worker at $17.18 per hour with a start date on or around Aug. 16; Tyler Soltau, part-time, on-call correctional officer at $21.02 per hour with a start date to be determined; Karri Wee, correctional officer at $21.02 per hour, contingent on a successful background check and pre-employment screening; and Michael Summerfelt, jail sergeant at $27.78 per hour, effective immediately.
• The board took the consideration of the sale of wetland credits under advisement. The informal request is for .3 acres of land. Lyon County has 10.504 wetland bank credits registered with the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources and had previously decided to retain these credits for road projects. To date, no road projects have been completed that have required the use of these credits. It was noted that the price per acre for wetland credits has risen substantially since the County’s last sale. Commissioner Charlie Sanow requested more firm numbers from Schroeder before the board makes a final determination on the issue.

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