Four seasons of outdoor activity for four seasons of Minnesota magnificence

Enbridge’s Ecofootprint Program supports enhanced river access sites in Red Lake Falls, Plummer and Oklee

It may be remote, but northwest Minnesota has its fair share of industry.

There’s Arctic Cat’s presence in Thief River Falls. There’s Modular housing, by Homark Homes, and furnace and stove production, by Northwest Manufacturing, in Red Lake Falls.

A few months back, Digi-Key Electronics announced 1,000 new jobs, and a million square feet of extra building space, in Thief River Falls.

And to make the deal sweeter for prospective residents, there’s always the spectacular outdoor playground.

“People have a job, but they want to have a life, too,” notes Allan Bertilrud, mayor of Red Lake Falls, a community of about 1,400. “In and around Red Lake Falls, we’ve got hills and bluffs, rivers and lakes. It’s very scenic.

“We call ourselves a city of four seasons, and we pride ourselves on having recreational opportunities four seasons a year.”

Whether it’s fishing, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, hunting, boating, camping, biking or hiking, northwest Minnesota is a year-round feast for the senses.

And this fall, supported by a grant from Enbridge’s Ecofootprint Grant Program, the cities of Red Lake Falls, Plummer and Oklee are enhancing six access sites along the Clearwater, Red Lake and Lost Rivers to minimize environmental impact and maximize that bang for the recreational buck.

Those improvement projects include:

  • A kayak landing area and enhanced gravel parking on the Clearwater River in Red Lake Falls;
  • A pavilion shelter with concrete pad, dock ramp and parking at Oklee’s Omar Sundrud Park;
  • An access ramp for boaters at Plummer’s Clearwater Bridge;
  • Eleven additional campsites with water and electricity, as well as a shelter, at Riverside Sportsman’s Park in Red Lake Falls;
  • A pavilion shelter with concrete pad and electricity, kayak and boat dock, and gravel parking lot at the People’s Park in Plummer; and
  • A boat access ramp, road and parking at the Terrebonne Bridge, which crosses over the Clearwater River southeast of Red Lake Falls.

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With construction on all six sites expected to wrap up by year’s end, these projects will soon offer easier and safer river access, while promoting environmental protection.

The International Water Institute, the River of Dreams canoe program and the RiverWatch initiative, all of which are based on environmental education and stewardship, operate regionally—and “we expect that all of the enhanced access sites will see plenty of use from these educational programs,” predicts Bertilrud.

Enbridge’s Ecofootprint program was established in 2015 to support environmental restoration and improvement efforts in the communities crossed by our proposed Line 3 Replacement Project.

Earlier this year, Enbridge announced that 17 organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin would receive Ecofootprint grant funding in 2017. Grants for these grassroots-level environmental initiatives total more than $1 million—and they include a $97,500 donation for these multiple river access projects.

“We’re looking at this as a way of attracting more people to the area—and keeping people in the area,” says Bertilrud.