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Greater Grand Forks Greenway sees busy start to the summer

While there has not been a visual count in a while, a trail camera near the riverside dam, used to observe people’s activities and count passers-by, tallies 600 hits a day.

Greenway photo June 2022.jpg
Casey Opstad rides his bike ride on the Greenway near downtown Grand Forks in June 2022.
Dominic Erickson/For the Herald
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Cheryl Anderson takes full advantage of Grand Forks’ Greenway by walking the course every day she can.

“I’m so glad we have it and it’s a shame some people don’t know it’s here,” she said.

While Anderson admitted that a rainy spring has kept her off the 20-plus mile trail system a couple of times this year, she loves to stroll along the riverside. She said once people begin to traverse the Greenway more frequently, fellow walkers begin to recognize others who walk at the same time.

“When I walk, there are lots of people,” said Anderson. “That’s probably why it feels so safe. You’ll see older people or dads with their kids.”

According to Greenway Specialist Kim Greendahl, the Greenway sees people of all ages in the summer, mostly people in their 20s or 30s. In the mornings, it’s mainly older people. The most common group is usually made up of two people and a dog.

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Greenway rollerblading June 2022.jpg
Rollerbladers cruise along the Greenway on the Grand Forks side of the Red River in June 2022.
Dominic Erickson/For the Herald

Most Greenway users are walkers, said Greendahl. While there has not been a visual count in a while, a trail camera near the riverside dam, used to observe people’s activities and count passers-by, tallies 600 hits a day. That does not exactly mean 600 people use the trail every day as any movement will trigger the camera, such as the wayward squirrel. However, Greendahl said it still indicates that the trails are off to a busy start to the summer.

The second-most popular use of the Greenway is cycling.

Casey Opstad, a cyclist on the Greenway, said that the paths are one of his favorite things about Grand Forks. He bikes the loop between the Sorlie and Point Bridges any time he can.

“It’s nice to be able to get away from cars and just cruise,” he said.

While he commented that he could clearly see how high the water had been due to natural debris gathered on the grass line, he noted that the path he bikes has been quite smooth.

Cleanup efforts have been challenging this year , said Greendahl, with water levels fluctuating while staying relatively high for most of the spring.

“People have been pretty patient with the cleanup process, and I understand why they want to get out,” said Greendahl.

While the debris has been cleaned off the trails, an ongoing issue has been the mud. It must be scraped off the paths when it is dry, as mud-clearing equipment slips when the ground is too moist. Because of this, Greendahl is looking forward to the upcoming hot, dry weather so maintenance employees can access the muddy riverside and mow the tall grass.

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Greendahl said there have been a few incidents in the past where people take cleanup efforts into their own hands, much to her disapproval.

“I will go out to the Greenway and realize that somebody decided to mow their own trail or just cut down trees,” said Greendahl. “You can’t do that on public property.”

Greater Grand Forks Greenway flag 2022.jpg
A flag flies high along the Greater Grand Forks Greenway in this photo from June 2022.
Dominic Erickson/For the Herald

She assures there are ways people can make requests and provide feedback about the Greenway. There is a monthly public meeting, held at 9 a.m. on the third Tuesday of the month in the Blue Line Club meeting room of the ICON Sports Center, where she urges people go to discuss issues with the Greenway Technical Committee.

This summer, the Greenway will see yoga, a couple of concerts and a fishing tournament. Greendahl said their biggest activities are the 5k races. The Greenway will also host the Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test, the longest swim race in North America, on June 18.

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