October 2023 Trails Talk


Sophia sits on the Spine Trail in front of her monarch waystation.

Sophia Hawn with Spirit Lake Girl Scout Troop #10157 spent much of the summer tending to the monarch waystation she created in June for her Girl Scout Gold Award. The project was supported through assistance from Sue Boettcher at ISU Extension, Dickinson County Conservation and Sophia’s grandmother, Tess Vermeys.

The waystation provides milkweeds, nectar sources and shelter needed to sustain monarch butterflies as they migrate through North America. Milkweed is the only food monarch caterpillars can eat and adult monarch butterflies drink nectar from a variety of flowering plants included in the waystation.

The site is nationally certified and registered by Monarch Watch as Waystation #45320 and Sophia named the habitat “Caterpillar Crib”. She said, “I made the waystation for my Girl Scout Gold Award to help bring the monarch population up. It’s basically a breeding ground and habitat for monarchs with many different milkweed and pollinator plants essential for happy healthy monarchs.”

The waystation also provides beautiful blooms throughout the growing season and supports a variety of other butterflies as well as bees, insects and animals. Be sure to look for this pollinator garden at the triangle intersection near East Okoboji Slough. For more information on the Monarch Waystation Program, visit www.monarchwatch.org. Thank you Sophia for this beautiful and beneficial addition to the Iowa Great Lakes Trails!


On October 12, the City of Milford was awarded an Iowa DNR REAP grant of $75,000 for construction of the second phase of Clay County Connection. The trail is part of a three-phase project to connect the Dickinson County Trails with Clay County. This 2-mile segment starts at County Highway A48 (240th Street) and will connect to the Terril Bike Loop at County Highway A43 (260th Street).

Overall, the Clay County Connection is part of the 135-mile Iowa Great Lakes Connection Trail that will link several existing trails and lakes in Northwest Iowa and is designated as a trail of statewide significance by the Iowa DOT. Design work has started on this second phase of the project and construction is anticipated to start in 2025. Depending on available funding, the DCTB is planning to complete the connection with Clay County in 2026.



The Iowa Transportation Commission toured several construction projects in the area as part of their regular monthly meeting held in Arnolds Park on October 9-10. The end of the tour was capped by an outing on the Spine Trail through Okoboji, Arnolds Park and Milford. Dakin Schultz, District Transportation Planner, arranged the day for the commissioners who thoroughly enjoyed getting to see the Iowa Great Lakes Trails up close. It was great to showcase our beautiful trails against a backdrop of fall colors and share how we partner with local governments and trail supporters to grow and maintain the trails system. Thank you to Parks Marina and Matt Richter for helping facilitate the trail tour with the commissioners.

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