My mother used to caution me that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Sadly, I didn't listen to that advice but that's another story. Today's story features an updated version of old mom's admonition: The road to dismal duck hunting in Minnesota is paved with asphalt. As in the hundreds of miles of asphalt biking trails the DNR hasbuilt.
You are looking at a picture of a biker's bridge to nowhere. Located near my home in northern Washington County, it's part of the Gateway Trail which allows for smooth peddling from downtown St. Paul to a point four miles northwest of Stillwater. Heaven forbid the bikers should have to stop, which they disdain, and look both ways before crossing this road. And heaven forbid the DNR should have ended the trail just before this bridge instead of ONE MILE further east where it does, in fact, end. The price tag for the bridge and one more mile of non-stop biking: $1,000,000.
Just wondering how many state-owned duck sloughs, so sick carp can't live in them, could be brought back to brood-producing health with a million dollars. There's another expensive-looking Gateway Trail bridge in North St. Paul and likely will be many more when the bikers get their non-stop trail provider, the Minnesota DNR, to extend the trail all the way to Canada. I am not making this up. The existing plan calls a ribbon of smooth biking asphalt from St. Paul all the way to the international border.
Standing in the way, for now, of extending the trail beyond the million-dollar bridge to nowhere is my neighbor who farms a couple hundred acres of crop land. One spring day he was trying to get out of his driveway with his John Deere and trailing six-bottom plow to go to work. But there was a bike race going on and not one of the steady and endless stream of contestants peddling past Marv's driveway would stop and let him through. So when the DNR's Gateway Trail people came to him asking for an easement across his land to extend the bike path his answer was no. In fact, as I recall, it was "hell no!"
But the bikers and the DNR will have their way some day soon. As one of the few remaining duck hunters in Minnesota, do I blame the DNR? Nope. Their priorities are numbers based. And bikers outnumber duck hunters in this state by a factor of 20 to 1. I'm looking for a way to pound my old Remington 12 gauge into a speedy two wheeler.