Off-highway vehicle trail deserves research

To the Editor:

The city of Houston is sponsoring an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trail in partnership with the DNR and four recreational clubs; three from Rochester and one from the Twin Cities.  The four clubs received DNR Grant-in-Aid funding in July, 2010: $150,000 matched by the DNR for a total of $300,000 for the proposed OHV Trail.

The proposed OHV Trail location includes South Park. South Park is located in a residential area in the city of Houston.

City residents opposed to the proposed OHV Trail, which includes South Park, oppose the proposed location. The DNR owns over 1,300 acres of recreational land 3.5 miles west of the city of Houston that would be an ideal location for the OHV Trail.

Minnesota Statutes 2011 116D.04 Subd. 6 Prohibitions states, in part:

“Subd. 6. Prohibitions. No state action significantly affecting the quality of the environment shall be allowed… so long as there is a feasible and prudent alternative consistent with the reasonable requirements of the public health, safety and welfare and the state’s paramount concern for the protection of its air, water, land and other natural resources from pollution, impairment or destruction. Economic considerations alone shall not justify such conduct.”

The DNR presented their “DNR preliminary review of potential Houston Off-Highway Vehicle Trail System” document to the mayor and the four clubs on Jan. 28, 2010.

The document contains observations from their field study detailing the likely pollution, impairment and destruction of the air, water, land and other natural resources, including four rare species listed in the DNR’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS.)

Ironically, one of the four species, the timber rattlesnake, has been the focus of DNR expenditures throughout Houston County for establishing new timber rattlesnake habitats. As taxpayers, we’re wondering why the DNR is spending taxpayer money to establish new habitats while destroying an existing one for the sake of a recreational trail.

The city of Houston has purchased 80 acres (Krukow property $210,000) and is in the process of purchasing additional residential acreage (Houge Property)  despite the fact that there is currently no plan for the DNR recommended trail design, maintenance, park management, additional law enforcement, emergency services or park facilities; the trail hasn’t been approved yet.

Planning after making a commitment reminds me of Nancy Pelosi pitching national healthcare by stating that, “We have to pass the bill before you can find out what is in it.”

Really?! Those of us working in the business world, or anyone who has ever provided a bank with a business proposal or purchased property, were incredulous at such an ignorant, ludicrous statement.

City residents should know the full cost and details of the proposal before committing to it or purchasing the land for it – that is simply prudent.


Lisa Erickson

Houston, MN