October Trails Talk


SALT atvsSeniors and Lawmen Together (S.A.L.T.) is a group of volunteers that patrols the trails of the Iowa Great Lakes region from April through October. The volunteers ride donated Polaris ATVs from the north end of the trail around Big Spirit Lake to the south end at Milford, along the west side of West Lake Okoboji and the expanding rail trail Tatanka Ska Trace. A typical summer will see the S.A.L.T. team log over 6,000 miles while watching over the safety of the many bikers, joggers, rollerbladers and walkers that utilize the trail system. Each volunteer is trained and certified to operate the ATVs and they carry a cell phone and radio to report emergencies or problems to the Communications Center. They also inform the DCTB Executive Director of any maintenance issues such as downed tree branches or pavement deficiencies. Aside from emergencies, the trail patrol provides daily removal of trash and debris as well as assistance to trail users with information, water and ice cream cone certificates for children that are wearing their helmets while biking. These volunteers provide a great service to the community and we are grateful for their service. For information on joining the S.A.L.T. Patrol, please visit  www.dickinsoncountytrails.com/s-a-l-t-patrol/


What was happening with the trails 15 years ago? Here are a couple of tidbits from some of the earliest trails talk columns by DCTB’s first Executive Director, Steve Litts.

October 2006: Contingent upon raising the necessary funds, your DCTB board members have endorsed the construction of a new trail segment that will run from N. Inner Drive, north, to 155th Street.  This will be the north leg of a trail designed to allow a safer route around West Lake Okoboji. This trail segment will join two other trail construction projects already scheduled for next summer, Wahpeton and the completion of the Big Spirit Lake trail.  If you haven’t seen it yet, drive up around the west side of Big Spirit Lake and look at the trail work that has been done.  We believe you’ll like what your donations have created. 

November 2006:  Over last summer, DCTB conducted several maintenance projects on the trail; we have started a trail construction project on the west side of Big Spirit and worked towards bid preparation for the new trail at Wahpeton.  We’re planning a trail off Hwy. 86, (north from N. Inner Ln.), and we’re discussing a trail coming around the city of West Okoboji. We’re also collaborating with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to design a trail on the Anglers Bay preserve.  Has it been a busy year?  You bet.  But more importantly it’s been a productive one and even more is on the drawing board.

A study of the county identified the need for 63 more miles of trails to connect existing trails, to connect lakes and nature areas, to connect with our neighboring counties – all at a cost of $16M. Grant money for trails can be applied for and if awarded, we will only need $1 of local money for every $4 of trail cost.  That’s a very good return for our local dollars. 

It is interesting to reflect on the projected cost of trail needs back in 2006. We can say the vision has grown and the funds needed have most likely doubled. And while many of our grants require $1 of local money for every $4 in trail cost, or a 25% match, we usually bring 50-75% of the funding from local grants and donations due to how competitive the state and federal grant programs have become.

Likewise, it is amazing to look back at where we were 15 years ago and see how much development has occurred over the years.  It is also a reminder of how long certain segments, such as the Anglers Bay Trail, take to get into development.  Now that the Jones Pasture Trail is complete, we have started the design process for the Anglers Bay Trail.  Depending on available funding, we hope to begin construction on this trail along the northeast side of Big Spirit Lake in 2023. Below are maps showing the growth of the trails system from 2007 to 2021.

Recreational Trails Maps

Click HERE for Larger Maps

As always, Happy Trails to You and Yours.
Erin Reed, DCTB Executive Director