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Getting ready to “Canoe the Blue”

By Staff | Jun 21, 2015

I can give my personal ‘thumbs up’ to the recent land sale that will result in a new canoe landing and camping spot near the Riverside Town & Country Club golf course.

The Riverside T&C board of directors recently sold 22 acres of land along the Blue Earth River to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The land is directly south of the golf course, across the river.

The Riverside T&C Club has owned the property since the club first organized and purchased land for the construction of a golf course.

That was way back in 1921.

While the nine-hole golf course was constructed (actually 11 holes as there are two extra ‘practice’ holes), the need for this river land never materialized.

Now, the club’s board of directors has sold it to the DNR for $55,000 in what both sides are calling the proverbial win-win situation.

The DNR has been searching for some land to use as a canoe/kayak landing area on the Blue Earth River. It had to have easy access from a road, and have a level area for vehicles to park and canoeists and kayakers to easily get into and out of the water.

According to DNR area land supervisor Craig Beckman, this spot fits the bill perfectly.

Not only is there an area where a driveway entrance can be easily constructed, there is a perfect place for a canoe/kayak landing.

As a bonus, Beckman says, the DNR will also have room to construct a primitive camping area, a bit away from the landing area.

By primitive, he says it will be just a spot for tents, not full camper units.

Beckman also says the DNR would ideally like to find some canoe/kayak landing areas all along the Blue Earth River, approximately every 10 miles of river distance.

That means not just the 45 highway miles from Blue Earth to Mankato, but because the river is so twisty, it is actually officially listed as being 104 miles long.

I can hardly imagine 10 entry points to the river, but it would certainly be interesting and very beneficial.

The win situation for the Riverside T&C Club is obviously a financial gain.

Board members tell me the $55,000 they received will go a long way to retiring debt and cover costs of improvements to the course and clubhouse.

They would never have used the 22 acres for anything for the golf course, as it is prone to flooding during snow melts in the spring, when there has been a lot of snow during the winter.

Their other benefit is not quite so obvious, but it has to do with bringing people interested in recreation to a site right next door to their golf course which, of course, is a great place for recreation.

Luckily, there are some people in this world who like to golf and those who like to canoe. A few, like me, enjoy both.

Maybe not in the same day, however.

There have been many people who have canoed on the Blue Earth River in the past, some using the entry point in Blue Earth along Leland Parkway. Others have used an access point north of Winnebago.

But a new landing area will certainly be a benefit.

The full benefit for the Blue Earth and Winnebago areas of Faribault County may be a bit harder to see right now.

But, if canoeing the Blue Earth River takes off in the future, it could be a boon to both communities.

Take the Root River by Lanesboro and Rushford as an example. That river enjoys having a lot of people canoeing on it. I know, I have done it several times. And, I don’t think it is much different from the Blue Earth River here.

Except for maybe a couple of things that will have to be addressed.

One, of course, are the many downed trees which block navigation. That is an issue right inside the city limits of Blue Earth.

Another issue is the quality of the water it is often more the brown river than the blue river.

A third consideration is water depth. During a long, hot summer the river basically dries up leaving very little ability to navigate even with a low-draft kayak.

Some of these problems can be solved, of course. But, it would take time and money.

Having enough water in the river to float a canoe on is something that can’t be fixed other than people will just have to wait for some rain.

Since the DNR has received official “State Water Trail” status for the Blue Earth River something that happened five years ago there is a very good chance that the state is going to spend some bucks in the future to make this river navigable for canoes and kayaks as much as possible.

I think that sounds pretty exciting for the future of recreation on the river.

A slogan created several years ago to spark interest in canoeing and kayaking locally may finally be coming true.

It will soon be time to “Canoe the Blue.”