The Friends of Fort Defiance at their Tuesday night meeting at the Estherville Public Library made plans for work on the Whitetail ridge interpretive trail.
The trail extends from just east of the west parking lot to a little west of the old ranger's cabin that has been empty for quite a few years. The trail follows Iowa Department of Natural Resources' recommendations for low-gradient trails that are less subject to erosion and washout. Iowa Lakes Community College environmental studies professor and former Friends president Gary Phillips spearheaded trail construction, laying out the trail with assistance of his students and Friends members. Students in the Iowa Lakes construction trades program in Emmetsburg built an interpretive kiosk at the trailhead.
The trail initially was partially overlaid with woodchips. However, the Friends group came up with a plan to lay down barrier fabric and crushed limestone to make the trail more sustainable and to better keep down vegetation. The DNR approved their plans. The Friends have also committed to buying $2,000 in limestone to start the project.
Friends president Dave Seylar Tuesday night said Valley Contracting would be bringing crushed limestone for the trail.
Member and former president John Wittneben said engineer Scott Brunsvold had said 22 feet of 12-inch culvert would suffice to handle flow from the above-ground spring just south of the trail just before it branches off into a loop. Wittneben said Emmet County engineer Roger Patocka said the county had used 15-inch reinforced concrete pipe available in six-foot sections.
Seylar suggested the group could resume its work nights the first and third Tuesday of every month starting in May. Phillips said the group could probably lay the limestone trail almost to where the culvert is planned. Work sessions usually start at 6 p.m. and go until dark. Anyone who wants to help can meet at the parking lot by the picnic shelter.
Treasurer Laura Young reminded everyone of the Bill Jamerson "Dollar-a-Day Boys" concert 6 p.m. Thursday at the Estherville Public Library. Jamerson's book and music celebrate the Civilian Conservation Corps. Corpsmen built the lodge and other structures at Forst Defiance and other Iowa state parks. Refreshments will be provided.
Anyone is welcome to join the Friends group and to help during work nights. Yearly memberships are $10 for both individuals and families and may be sent to: Friends of Fort Defiance, P.O. Box 314, Estherville, IA 51334.