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Bikers, joggers and walkers can safely enjoy the West Lake Okoboji Trail Loop without battling traffic along Highway 86. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday, Sept. 20 at Lighthouse Road in Wahpeton for the new stretch of trails along the highway. It's a project that has been years in the making -- one that will stretch 20.3 miles around West Lake when completed.

Three separate segments have opened over the last year. The additions allow recreational users access to the west-side trails without touching the highway.

The new trails go along 200th Street past Lighthouse Drive to Edgewood Drive, in addition to the trail from Edgewood Drive in Wahpeton through Gull Point State Park and to the north near 175th Street. There also is a concrete stretch from Emerson Bay Campground to Edgewood Drive.

Many community members, including Wahpeton Mayor Frank Joenks, representatives of the Okoboji Foundation, Stacy Rosemore from Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce, members of SALT and Dickinson County Trails Executive Director Jean Martin were on hand for the ribbon-cutting and a check presentation. Okoboji Foundation donated $30,000 to the trails system. The money donated by Okoboji Foundation was used for the construction of the west side trails.

"The city of Wahpeton has been very supportive of the trails," Martin said.

Martin also appreciated the support from other local organizations.

"These trail segments were entirely funded locally by donations, including Trails Fundraisers and Friends of the Trails, city and county participation and grants from the Okoboji Foundation and the Okoboji Protective Association," Martin said.

One small segment of trail -- the West Lake Okoboji Trail Loop -- will extend from 175th Street to 180th Street when completed. A grant application to fund the last trail project was submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Approximately 40-50 feet of recreational trail will connect to the existing trails.

Rick Hopper from Jacobson Westergard and Beck Engineering were the engineers for the new trail segments. Saturday's Oktoberfest Bike Ride was the first organized event to take advantage of the newly completed trail segment.


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