A project that would connect Winona to Buffalo County and the Great River Trail system took another step forward recently as the Buffalo County Board approved a $150,000 pledge to serve as a lead gift toward a $1.2 million capital campaign.
The Winona Connector Bridge project, with proposed construction to start in 2019 to 2020, also had been awarded a $2.3 million federal grant which will link Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is seen as the first step in a larger $21 million Flyway Trail project, which would create a multi-use off-highway trail through Buffalo County between Nelson, Wis., and Winona along the Mississippi River.
“The county has been navigating the complicated process of laying the groundwork for what we believe will be an important recreational economic development tool for the region,” Buffalo County administrative coordinator Sonya Hansen said in a news release. “Since Flyway Trail will eventually flow through much of the county, staff and the Board of Supervisors felt it is imperative to show Buffalo County’s support for the private fundraising campaign for this first phase of the total trail.”
The campaign will be managed by Crescendo Fundraising Professionals. Founder Ellen Hongerholt said the campaign strategy is based on positive results from the Winona and western Wisconsin philanthropic community which determined $1.2 million in private funding was attainable for the first portion of the trail. During that study donors suggested a lead gift from Buffalo County would best set the stage to reach the goal. The firm prepared its recommendations based on responses from potential major donors and regional leaders and input from an online survey.
The first part of the trail will connect Winona to Wisconsin by way of the Old Wagon Bridge in Aghaming Park on Latsch Island. It will require the construction of a railroad overpass.
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When complete, work on the rest of the project will continue.
“Flyway Trail would have huge economic, health and quality of life benefits as a human powered trail,“ said Eric Barnard, Winona State University Outdoor Education & Recreation Center director. “The Winona and Buffalo County region is growing as an Upper Midwest outdoor recreation destination. Flyway Trail will serve as the crown jewel for visitors and locals residents alike.”
Barnard believes the Winona connector and future full 54-mile trail will have a major positive impact to Winona and western Wisconsin and will be widely supported by the outdoor recreation community.
“The Winona and Buffalo County region is growing as an Upper Midwest outdoor recreation destination. Flyway Trail will serve as the crown jewel for visitors and locals residents alike.” Eric Barnard, WSU Outdoor Education & Recreation Center director.