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Dokken: Following the rules will improve Greenway experience for all

Dogs are supposed to be on a leash within the Greenway everywhere except the dog park, and snowmobiles are limited to designated trails in the Greenway.

Snowmobile and ATV tracks in the Grand Forks Greenway are apparent after an early January snowfall. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald)

I have a few quibbles about some of the people who use the Greenway. These aren’t issues of crisis proportions, but they’re annoying just the same.

So here goes. ...

During a recent email exchange with Kim Greendahl, the city of Grand Forks Greenway coordinator, I brought up some of the improprieties I’ve seen during walks along the green space between the Red and Red Lake rivers.

Topping my gripe list was unleashed dogs, which I’ve found to be a regular occurrence within the Greenway. I’ve also been struck by the number of snowmobile and ATV tracks I’ve seen since the marginal snow we’ve gotten this winter first hit the ground.



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While neither situation has caused me problems, the frequency of both violations is striking just the same. Dogs are supposed to be on a leash within the Greenway everywhere except the dog park , and snowmobiles are limited to designated trails in the Greenway.

On the Grand Forks side of the Greenway, the snowmobile trail runs from Riverside Dam to downtown. In East Grand Forks, the trail begins in the north part of the city and follows the Red River to the Red Lake River and east.

The snowmobile and ATV tracks I’ve seen along the Greenway both in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks are nowhere near those designated trails. As an avid snowmobiler myself, I find that aggravating because it gives snowmobilers everywhere a bad name, especially among those who aren’t big fans of the vehicles to begin with and don’t need much of an excuse to complain about them.

I get that snowmobilers need a place to ride, but following the rules shouldn’t be too much to ask.

The final observation I shared with Greendahl isn’t so much a rule-breaker as a matter of courtesy, and that’s the overwhelming tendency people have to not announce their presence when coming up from behind on the trails. Almost without exception, no one coming up behind me, whether biking or jogging, gives a heads-up that they’re about to pass.

That can be jolting, not to mention potentially dangerous. All it would take is a simple heads-up: “Coming up behind you,” “on your left,” or words to that effect.

Apparently, I’m not the only person to find that annoying.

“These are the three most common complaints I get from Greenway users,” Greendahl said. “Although unclaimed dog feces would be a tie for first place with unclaimed dogs.”


People continually request signs to remind people about Greenway rules and laws, Greendahl says, but in the end, it comes down to etiquette and respecting others.

Common sense stuff, in other words.

Quibbles aside, a walk in the Greenway is much more enjoyable than hopping on the treadmill gathering dust in a spare bedroom, especially with the weather we’ve had so far this winter.

I’ve been especially impressed to see the paved trails are kept clear of snow. If that sounds like I haven’t spent much time in the Greenway before this winter, that assumption would be correct. No doubt, people are taking advantage of the unseasonably warm January temperatures, Greendahl says.

And well they should, although there are plenty of people out there who would like to see more snow; count me in that camp.

“The number of people I see skiing, biking, walking and snowshoeing is impressive,” Greendahl said. “Warm weather helps, of course.”


That being said, it’s important to follow the rules to make the time spent using this shared resource as enjoyable as possible. And if someone’s breaking the rules, report it.

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Anyone who witnesses a violation, whether it’s snowmobiles where they shouldn’t be, dogs running unleashed or anything else, is encouraged to call the Grand Forks Police Department at (701) 787-8000 or the East Grand Forks Police Department at (218) 773-1104.

For more information about the Greenway, including events, activities and regulations, check out the Greenway website at greenwayggf.com .

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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