Time to go and ‘Canoe the Blue’
Area canoe and kayak enthusiasts will soon have a new spot to go “Canoe the Blue,” the Blue Earth River, that is.
Last Monday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) purchased several acres of land along the Blue Earth River from the Riverside Town & Country Golf Club, located between Winnebago and Blue Earth.
“We closed on the property on Monday, June 1,” says Craig Beckman, area supervisor for the DNR in their New Ulm office. “So it is now officially DNR property.”
The 22.2 acres of land is located just south of the golf course clubhouse, across the road and on the south side of the river itself. The DNR paid $55,000 for the parcel of land.
The DNR has plans to construct a ‘carry-in’ canoe and kayak landing spot on the property.
“We don’t have the plans in place yet,” Beckman says. “But, we envision putting in a gravel driveway and having a place for four or five vehicles to park. Plus we will build an area to enter or exit the river with easy accessibility.”
That work could be done as early as later this summer, he adds. They also plan to add a ‘canoe-in campsite,’ accessible from the river only, with a place for river travelers to camp with tents.
Riverside T&C Golf Club board president Mike McNerney says the club has owned the land since the original course was built in 1921.
“We have never used it, nor do we plan on ever using it, for the course,” he says of the property. “It is just too low and susceptible to flooding. So we were happy to sell it to the DNR for them to develop something there. I think it will be a great addition to our recreational area we have here.”
The entrance to the new canoe landing will be just southwest past the entrance to the golf course and just over a bridge which goes across the Blue Earth River.
The whole project was made possible because of a change in the river’s status five years ago, Beckman says.
“The Blue Earth River is the most recently designated ‘State Water Trail,'” he explains. “That happened in 2010 with a bill sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen.”
Being officially designated a State Water Trail freed up funding for the DNR to use for this project.
“Ideally we would like to eventually have a canoe landing every 10 river miles on the State Water Trails,” Beckman says. “That is not always possible, because it has to be close to a road, county or township, for access.”
The Blue Earth River is officially listed as being 104 miles long, according to Beckman.
He says there is a public waterways access to the river in Blue Earth, and one is planned by a bridge restoration project in Amboy. Otherwise, the next one to the north is at Rapidan.
“Our goal in acquiring this property was to get a good access to the river, which this site does,” he says. “Plus it is a pretty unique opportunity for developing a camping area.”
Other State Water Trail rivers in the New Ulm DNR office area include the Minnesota, Cottonwood and Watonwan rivers.
“And now the Blue Earth River,” Beckman says. “It is the most under-utilized river of the group, but it does have people canoeing and kayaking on it, as well as fishing it. Our goal is just to give the public more access to the river’s opportunities.”