Connecting the current spur of the bike trail that ends at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entrance (hey! FWS! Close that facility before you close the Booth Hatchery!) to the county's public access area on the southwest shore of Lake Madison. To get there, the county needs to lay about one and a quarter miles of new trail south along Highway 19, then east parallel to 236th Street, along the south edge of the remaining county poor farm land. That eastward stretch has a shelterbelt on it. The commissioners and highway superintendent Scott Mathison had the good gosh-darn sense to suggest that the county save the trees:
Once on site, the commissioners and Lake County Highway Superintendent Scott Mathison seemed to feel the north side of the trees was best. They seemed to agree that putting the trail along the road or going through the shelterbelt would likely require taking out several trees, which would be an expensive proposition.Yay for trees! Madison's bike trail currently runs through mostly open country. After a mile or two of leaning into the sun and stiff south wind, all pedalers will enjoy that quarter mile of shade and shelter. Keep those trees!
Mathison seemed confident that the trail would work on the north side by taking out the volunteer bushes and trimming up trees. The commissioners did not take any formal vote on the matter [Jane Utecht, "County Takes Research Road Trip," Madison Daily Leader, 2013.08.21].
The county could save a little concrete by continuing the southeasterly diagonal of the first part of this trail extension right on through the Sunset Harbor development right to the public access area beach. Residents there would enjoy quick and easy bicycle access, and cyclists from town could get to the beach faster with less time spent alongside the noisy highway. Developer Dan Lemme might be interested in such a trail proposal. He met with commissioners on their road trip at Sunset Harbor and proposed that the county swap him some of its poor-farm land for the squiggly, woodsy strip of land he owns on the south shore of Herkimer Pond. Utecht's text is fuzzy here, but she reports that Lemme suggested continuing the bike path through that area for beach access. Perhaps Lemme would also support the mountain-bike loops that Tony and I think would be a great idea!
Connecting the current Madison bike path to the county's beach is a good idea. But remember: if you really want bicycle bliss, you've got to build a loop. I have my plan for a loop around Lake Herman; our county commissioners should think big and extend their current trail in a long figure out around Lake Madison and Brant Lake down to Chester and back!