Mysterious signs placed throughout Petrifying Springs Park prompted an immediate response from Kenosha County officials this week.
The unauthorized signs inaccurately stated the county’s intentions for future development in the park and surrounding areas, according to Kenosha County Director of Parks Matt Collins. It is unknown who created the signs or who posted them.
The signs displayed false information and quoted Collins stating the trails were “off limits to the general public.” It stated trails would be converted for mountain-bike use only and that “runners, hikers, dog walkers and families will no longer be allowed to enjoy these trails.”
Unnecessary restrictions or limiting use and access of public property has never been, and likely never will be, a focus for local decision-makers, according to Collins.
“I think there’s some concern with the general public, more specifically the running and walking community,” Collins said. “They think we’re going to convert all of our hiking trails to mountain bike trails, and that’s not the case whatsoever. That’s never been our intent.
“That is not what we’re in business for,” Collins said. “We’re in business for providing open and accessible areas to the general public.”
The county issued a statement on Tuesday to clarify the confusion and used it as an opportunity to update progress at Petrifying Springs Park and the surrounding area.
New trails coming
The county intends to develop 139 acres immediately east of Petrifying Springs Park — through a 50-year, land-use agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside — allowing public access and an opportunity for multiple recreational activities.
The trails will include designated facilities for mountain bikers as well as multi-use trails for hikers, bikers and runners. The mountain bike trails would be maintained by the Kenosha Area Mountain Bike Association.
The UW-Parkside property includes numerous unauthorized trails, cleared over the years without Parkside’s permission by mountain bikers, runners and hikers.
“People have been using the trails, and I don’t blame them,” Collins said. “There’s no indication they’re even on Parkside property.
“Parkside wants to be a great community partner. They want to make sure about things from a liability standpoint and even an ecological standpoint. They don’t have the resources available to them. This is what we do for a living.”
Trempealeau-based Great Lakes Trail Builders was hired to create a comprehensive plan for trail optimization and environmental control, with specific attention to the surrounding Pike River watershed.
County officials have also formed a working group comprised of local leaders, Parkside employees and members of the area running and mountain biking community.
Runners and cross-country skiers will continue to have access to the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course, located just south of Petrifying Springs Park.
There are no authorized trails for mountain biking at Petrifying Springs Park, according to Collins.
Restoration of 1.1 miles of hiking and running trails within the park will take place this summer.
“Through the restoration work to come this year and the comprehensive planning process for the new network on the UW-Parkside land, we look forward to offering all of our users a stronger, safer system of trails in and around Petrifying Springs Park,” Collins said. “Our goal is to continue to grow the hiking trail network between Petrifying Springs Park and UW-Parkside.”
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