Significant progress has been made toward creating a recreational trail between Cook and Tower, in the beautiful natural landscape south of Lake Vermilion. The trail will be a scenic route providing an opportunity for healthy, safe, non-motorized, year-round transportation and recreation for residents and visitors. The governing structure is in place and a Master Plan, including a conceptual route, is complete. A new organization, Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail, is ready to raise funds for construction in order to make the trail a reality.
In February 2018, the Cities of Cook and Tower; the Townships of Owens, Beatty, Greenwood, Vermilion Lake, and Kugler; and the Bois Forte Tribal Government established a Joint Powers Board, which is responsible for developing, owning, and managing the Lake Vermilion Trail.
A large raffle and promotional event was held during the summer of 2019. Supporters of the trail were at local events such as Cook Timber Days and the Wooden Boat Show. The drawing was held at Northwoods Friends of the Arts in September 2019 with a grand prize of a Marin bicycle. Numerous other prizes were donated by local businesses. The raffle raised community awareness of the Lake Vermilion Trail, as well as raising needed operating funds.
Securing funding for trail development is the next crucial step. In July 2019, the Lake Vermilion Trail Joint Powers Board submitted an application for a grant from the Minnesota Parks and Trails Fund, a result of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment. Lack of matching funds for the development of the Lake Vermilion Trail was the primary reason no funds were granted from the Parks and Trails Fund.
In order to address the challenge of raising funds for trail development, Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail, a nonprofit corporation, has been formed. This new organization will be focused on fundraising, increasing community awareness, and providing opportunity for additional people to help bring the trail to reality. Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail is recruiting additional board members, and other volunteers interested in supporting the trail by fundraising, promotion, or field reconnaissance. For more information please contact Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 2021 Update
The Friends initiated a fall/winter fundraising drive to find matching funds for EAW/pre-engineering work on a 4.5 mile planned section of Trail from Tower to the Y-Store Intersection. The Northern St. Louis County Trails Task Force agreed to grant $4,000 for that work if matching funds could be raised.
In the past few months, the Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail have raised nearly $12,000 in matching funds. Contributions came from Lake Country Power Community Trust’s Operation Round-up Program, Cook Lion’s Club, Ely Rotary Club, Tim Johnson’s State Farm Agency and Quotes for Good Program, Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren Foundation, and many private individuals.
Because of the successful winter fund-raising drive, Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail contracted the services of JPJ Engineering to begin EAW/pre-engineering work on a section of trail from Tower to the Y-Store intersection.
Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail Board Members are now planning a spring/summer fund-raising drive to raise matching funds for easements, engineering, and construction. In August, Natural Harvest Food Co-op will host the Friends of the Lake Vermilion Trail in their monthly Change Within Reach round-up program.