OUR OPINION: Fine weather highlights Red River's canoeing potential
A billion dollars for 10 pro football games a year ... No wonder the Vikings stadium proposal has had such a tortured history in St. Paul. Regardless of the other benefits of the deal, the huge upfront cost plus the limited professional-football ...
A billion dollars for 10 pro football games a year ...
No wonder the Vikings stadium proposal has had such a tortured history in St. Paul. Regardless of the other benefits of the deal, the huge upfront cost plus the limited professional-football playing time amount to a fairly inefficient way to spend recreation and entertainment dollars.
Contrast that to Grand Forks and East Grand Forks' disc golf courses. The low initial expense coupled with the strong and steady use the courses get throughout the summer add up to big wins for the local parks and rec departments.
Now, here's a way North Dakota can take advantage of that same dynamic:
The Red River is a spectacular canoeing river -- slow and peaceful on most days, with lots of wildlife and little development along its banks.
But it lacks one vital amenity: namely, well-spaced canoe landings.
North Dakota should change that.
For a modest investment, much of the Red River could be opened up to an entirely new but popular and affordable class of recreation.
The Grand Cities, for example, have built several boat landings over the years, and the Red River's popularity with boaters and anglers has gone way up. Powerboats now are a fairly common sight on the river, and it's great to see residents and visitors getting out and enjoying the resource.
Sadly, canoeists remain rare. In order to avoid paddling upstream, river canoeing -- even flatwater river canoeing, as on the Red -- calls for access points spaced eight or 10 miles apart.
But south of the boat ramp in Grand Forks' Lincoln Park, canoeists have to drive to a ramp near Buxton, N.D., to find an easy spot to lauch their craft.
And as mentioned before in this space, that's 33 river miles away. It would be a several-day trip by canoe, and that's way more paddling than most people want to do.
Unlike boat ramps, canoe ramps don't require elaborate slabs for backing trailers into the water. A small parking lot, a clean trail that leads down to the river's edge -- that's about it. Canoe clubs almost certainly would help with mowing and other annual maintenance.
Thanks in part to the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Greenway, Red River Valley residents have come to appreciate the river's beauty and recreational potential. Canoeing is a fantastic way to put water amenities to widespread, popular and low-impact use. A series of inexpensive canoe ramps by major Red River crossings could help the river come alive.
-- Tom Dennis for the Herald