Later this year, Mills County residents will likely be asked to give their opinion on the possible establishment of a county-wide trail system, one that would link the entire county to the 63-mile Wabash Trace Nature Trail.
“It’s an idea that’s just being discussed and explored at this point,” Anne Smith of the Mills County Public Health Office said Friday. “We’re still in the early stages of exploring to see if people would want a county-wide trail system in Mills County.”
Smith stressed the discussions are only preliminary and no formal proposal has been adopted.
Glenwood bicycling enthusiast Tom Sperling said the discussions have taken place among members of a citizens group that was initially formed to explore the idea of linking the city of Glenwood with the Wabash Trace, the popular recreation trail that runs along the abandoned Wabash Railroad Line. The trail runs through southwest Iowa from Council Bluffs to the Missouri border near Blanchard, passing through the Mills County communities of Mineola, Silver City and Malvern.
“It’s a pretty cool and fun grassroots effort to see the possible completion of a county-wide trail system,” Sperling said. “There’s definitely a shared vision to have Glenwood and other towns like Emerson and Tabor connected to the Wabash Trace.”
The discussions have involved Mills County Engineer Kevin Mayberry and Brian Leaders, a representative of the National Park Service’s Trails and Conservation Assistance Program in Omaha.
It was Leaders, Smith said, who initially broached the idea of exploring the feasibility of a county-wide trail system instead of just a link to the Wabash Trace from Glenwood.
Smith said a proposal could be adopted by late summer or early fall. At that time, a series of public meetings would likely take place to solicit ideas and gage county-wide interest in the idea.
“We’ll want to get input from citizens in every community in Mills County,” Smith said.
Many members of the citizens group, Sperling said, share the belief that a county-wide trail system would not only open up new recreational and economic opportunities for Mills County communities, but also enhance the quality of life for county residents over a long-term basis.