DNR reaches agreement to buy campground for trailThe Department of Natural Resources approved the $182,800 purchase Wednesday of a 78-acre campground eight miles south of the city of Superior to extend the North Country National Scenic Trail.
By: Kevin Murphy, Superior Telegram
MADISON — The Department of Natural Resources approved the $182,800 purchase Wednesday of a 78-acre campground eight miles south of the city of Superior to extend the North Country National Scenic Trail.
However, Rodney Van Horenweder, who is selling his Manitou Valley Campground to the DNR doesn’t know of any neighbors ready to sell their land, too.
“They don’t want the strangers on their land that the trail would bring,” he said Wednesday.
The DNR values Van Horenweder’s property for its Black River crossing and proximity to Pattison State Park.
Van Horenweder has lived along Manitou Valley Road “all my life,” and has operated a campground there since the 1970s.
His neighbor to the west and northwest, Mary Ann Grymala, laughed when a reporter asked if she was interested in selling the DNR her land or granting them a trail easement.
“No, and they’ve been after my land since the 60s,” she said Wednesday.
The land her family has owned near Van Horenweder since the early 1900s, is “very personal and private” to them and she “doesn’t want to be … pressured into sell.”
Paul Bachinski, a Duluth-based general contractor and home inspector, and family members own 120 acres south of Manitou Valley Road adjacent to Van Horenweder. Although the properties have been in the family for generations, Bachinski wouldn’t rule out selling his property to the DNR but said it’s complicated by his desire to perhaps build a home there someday and consent of family members.
“I definitely wouldn’t want to give (the DNR) an easement because there would go my ability to hurt there,” he said.
Douglas Haag, the DNR’s real estate director, said the DNR wouldn’t acquire hunting rights with a trail easement unless the landowner wants to sell them.
The DNR doesn’t “aggressively pursue,” land acquisitions because many landowners don’t want to sell to grant easements to the DNR, he said.
“We work with willing sellers … and realize that acquiring enough properties for a trail can be a long process,” he said.
Since 2000, Haag said the DNR has acquired nine properties and 13 easements in Wisconsin for the North Country Trail plus segments spanning state, county, local and federal lands.
More than 121 of the 200 miles planned for the North Country Trail are completed in Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties, according to the North Country Trail Association.
The trail route crosses Wisconsin’s border at Minnesota’s Jay Cooke State Park, and crosses into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at Hurley. The trail also winds through several other states before terminating in New York.
The DNR looks for route alternatives when it encounters landowners not interested in selling, said Haag.
“We take advantage of opportunities that come along,” he said.
Van Hordenweder said he was ready to retire and sell out because the online registration system the DNR adopted several years ago has diminished his business. People used to show up at Pattison, be told it was full and be directed to his or other nearby campgrounds. Now, campers learn online that Pattison has no vacancy and don’t come to the area or his campground, he said.
His buildings and campsites will be removed in cooperation with the National Park Service and North Country Trail Association. His steel bridge over the Black River didn’t meet state standards last year, said Van Horenweder, and may need to be reinforced or replaced.
The Van Hordenweder property purchase is subject to approval by Gov. Scott Walker.