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Park & Trail Highlight: Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement Project

Information and photos provided by Crookston City Administrator Shannon Stassen.

The Red Lake River Corridor (RLRC) Enhancement Project is striving to create a water trail experience that is second to none in Minnesota and the region. Recent success in funding applications have led to great enthusiasm throughout the region.

The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission recommended funding in 2018 (which was approved at $200,786), and has recommended $1,491,881 for 2019, which awaits approval from the Legislature. The RLRC Enhancement Project also received $20,000 in funding from Northwest Minnesota Foundation for grant writing and purchase of signage for the water trail. Local communities provided matching funds for all of these applications at approximately 25% for each application.

The RLRC project seeks to increase use of the river by residents resulting in better quality of life, better health outcomes and more equitable access to outdoor recreational opportunities. Secondly, the project strives to increase tourism, contributing to the local economies and improving overall economic development in the region. Next, this project will provide better physical accessibility to the river which will expand health and recreation outcomes. And finally, the project will improve stewardship of public lands and waters as a result of strong corridor identity and education.

Through the first two applications, the water trail will see improvements to 12 canoe/kayak access points, including floating piers and kayak launches in some locations. Additionally, two of the major campgrounds along the corridor will be improved by updating facilities and expanding capacity.

The Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement project is governed by a Joint Powers Board including the cities of Thief River Falls, St. Hilaire, Red Lake Falls, Crookston, Fisher and East Grand Forks; Pennington County, Red Lake County and Polk County; and the Red Lake Water Shed District. This work has been made possible through the support of University of Minnesota Extension – NW Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, which has been instrumental in the planning process, convening and grant writing for the Joint Powers Board.


  • 2003 – Red Lake River Corridor Joint Powers Board established
  • 2005 – JPB partnered with University of MN Center for Changing Landscapes
  • 2016 – Achieved Trail of Regional Significance designation
  • 2017 – Received $20,000 from Northwest Minnesota Foundation
  • 2017 – Received $200,786 from GMRPTC
  • 2018 – Recommended for funding of $1,491,881 by GMRPTC