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$100,000 for Red River Improvements

By Tracy Fugere

Fargo, ND – The Minnesota Legislature has appropriated one hundred thousand dollars from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Water Recreation account for an inventory of the Red River.

The inventory will make recommendations to the legislature on the cost of improvements necessary for canoe and boating routes on the river. It also will map the lower portion of the Red from Breckenridge to Georgetown.

Neoma Laken is the Chair of the Red River of the North Canoe Trail Government Relations Sub-Committee. She was instrumental in getting the money appropriated. She says the reason for doing this--in the long run--is for economic development.

"The economy of the cities are growing smaller--with the exception of Fargo/Moorhead. The rest of the cities along the Red are losing population, their not as prosperous as they once were. So this will be used as an economic tool to bring people in. For instance, if they come here to the head waters in Breckenridge, they'll probably camp in our campgrounds and spend money for that. They'll buy groceries in our grocery stores. They'll visit our historical sites and other sites. Maybe they'll take in a movie. So it will bring--in the long run--considerable tourist dollars into the communities along the Red."

Laken says she spoke with Winnepeg Mayor R.S. Oliver and he says the government of Manitoba is also working on the Red River--the portion in Canada--to be a recreational point for people to go to.

"He said that he would forward my information directly to the government people in Manitoba who are doing this and so they would know where we are at. They have not done near as much as we have now in Minnesota. But that hopefully maybe this would give them the impetus to go forward."

The Minnesota water recreation account that made this possible is money from the canoe and boat licenses and a percentage of the gas tax.