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How would you spend $100 on county parks, trails?

A question on the Douglas County Parks and Trails Survey asks residents what type of trails they'd like to see and one of the options is snowmobile trails. (Echo Press file photo)1 / 2
Residents shared their thoughts on the future of Douglas County's parks and trails during an open house hosted last month. Al Lieffort, Douglas County parks superintendent, spoke with residents who stopped by to share their thoughts. ­ (Contributed photo)2 / 2

Development of a new Douglas County Parks and Trails Plan is well under way, but there's still time to have your say.

The plan is a blueprint for the county's parks, open spaces, trails and bikeways over the next 25 years.

"We're trying to take a look at: What do we have? What do people wish we had? And how do we make these things come together? That's really what we're trying to do," explained Al Lieffort, Douglas County Parks superintendent.

An open house and work sessions were held last month for in-person input from residents and stakeholders.

Organizers are now asking the rest of the Douglas County community to go to the county's website ( and click on "Douglas County Parks and Trails Survey" to take a quick survey about what they want for the future of parks and trails in the area.


There are 12 questions on the survey and it takes about five minutes to get through.

"The questions ask how you use parks and what you think about when you consider going to a park. It also asks about things that you like to do in the outdoors," Lieffort said.

There's also an interactive exercise that asks survey-takers to divide $100 amongst their own priorities for parks and trails.

The survey results will be used to help shape the recommendations that will be made about park projects and outline priorities for use of the Douglas County Park Fund for the next several years, Lieffort said.

"This type of study only occurs about every 10 years and so it can have a far reaching effect on the community," Lieffort said.


When asked what people are pointing out as park and trail priorities so far, Lieffort outlined three areas for focusing improvement:

• It seems clear that Douglas County should spend considerable effort on building partnerships that bring people into our parks. That includes making sure that people can find them easily and have something interesting to do when they get to one of our properties.

• Development of trails that connect communities to parks should be a priority: Alexandria to Lake Carlos State Park; Kensington Runestone Park to Andes Tower Hills and the city of Kensington; Spruce Hill Park to Lake Carlos State Park and to the private campground north of Spruce Hill Park; Chippewa Park to Brandon, Evansville, and the hills north of there; and Alexandria to Glenwood.

• The new Lake Brophy Park will probably be an area that needs to have a very active mix of outdoor recreation options.

Urban planning consultants will compile comments, ideas and survey results to create the Douglas County Park and Trail Plan and it should be in-hand sometime in September, Lieffort said.


So far, 55 people have taken the online survey and 35 people attended last month's open house and work sessions, which Lieffort said only represents a small percentage of the people who live in Douglas County.

He said having input from just 90 people can be interpreted several ways: "For instance, one could say that it is a good chance to have an influence on policy since the sampling group is so small. On the other hand, we will have the best chance of doing a really good job if we have more responses,"Lieffort said.

"Many decisions about the direction that Douglas County will move, relative to parks and trails, will be made based, in part, by the feedback that we get from people who [take the online survey]."

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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