Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



BELTRAMI COUNTY: Plan would co-locate shooting range, all-terrain vehicle trail head

BEMIDJI - Another phase of Beltrami County's fledgling parks and trails program would co-locate a public shooting range and all-terrain vehicle trail head in Eckles Township.

BEMIDJI - Another phase of Beltrami County's fledgling parks and trails program would co-locate a public shooting range and all-terrain vehicle trail head in Eckles Township.

A year ago, the Beltrami County Board approved a groundbreaking Recreational Trails Plan that attempted to site areas in the county appropriate for a number of multiple-use activities.

Now, the County Natural Resource Management Department with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission's help has scoped out an area for a shooting sports complex that could also serve as a staging area for ATVs.

An open house on the plan will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. tonight in the County Board Room in the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

"We can make this better for everybody if we get to listen to a lot of different voices," says Cliff Tweedale, HRDC executive director. "I'm excited about what the county's doing; I think they're proposing some things that are going to satisfy certain constituencies well and do it in a way that really minimizes impact to different properties and lands."


The open-format meeting will allow people to visit stations where maps and drawings will display the proposal and to discuss them one-on-one with NRM and HRDC staff. Also, representatives of local shooting and ATV clubs will answer questions.

The basic area is public land in Eckles Township bordered on the north and east by Jackpine Road and Minnesota Highway 89, and to the southwest by the abandoned Soo Line rail bed that runs diagonally and now is used as an ATV and snowmobile trail.

Housing a 'ranger'

Entrance by car would be off Highway 89 where a training center building would house a "ranger" who would coordinate the complex, as well as an indoor shooting range and classrooms that could be used for gun safety courses, said John Winter, the NRM recreation resource manager who's been working on the plans since early this year.

"It could maybe have an indoor shooting range for winter," Winter said. "It could have an office for information and control . . . maybe a classroom setting for snowmobile training, gun safety, ATV training, Take a Kid Fishing - everybody uses it."

Winter said he's met with a number of stakeholder groups to gain input, including horse-riding groups and dog-sledders. With the annual Paul Bunyan Sled Dog Races run on the old rail bed, the building - with restrooms - could benefit them also, he added.

The trail head area is proposed for the southwest corner of the fenced complex, offering simply a place to park as a staging point for a host of trails in the area, including one along the Soo Line corridor farther to the southwest, he said. The site would also feature a simple shelter building with only restrooms and picnic tables.

Also part of the plan is placement of vegetative buffer strips and forest management practices to control noise, Tweedale said.


"ATVs can go anywhere right now," Winter said. "What we've done is place them into an organized trail system, trying to consider the other trail users like the hikers, the bikers, and try to place them into a system that works. No one has their own thing, everyone's got to do some sharing."

Information from the open house will be shared with the county's new Park and Trail Advisory Council, which will work with staff to prepare recommendations for County Board approval by Thanksgiving, Milne said.

The Bemidji Pioneer and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

What To Read Next
Get Local