Zumbro Water Trail

Creating a regional waterway trail system: A path to state funding for recreation in the Zumbro Watershed.


What is the Zumbro River Trail (ZWT)?

The Zumbro River and its main branches would be the ‘trail’ that connects existing and proposed  recreational assets of our communities into a network of parks for citizen and visitors to canoe, kayak, fish, camp, or simply enjoy our natural resources.  A network of parks would enhance access to the Zumbro and its branches in an area where public access is rare, and infastructure is lacking.  A network of parks would allow citizens and visitors to plan multi-day trips to our area, encouraging patronage to buisnesses in our community.  Each community that joins will decide the future of the trial and how to share allocated funding.


What is regional designation and why would that bring financial resources to my community?

The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trials Commission (GMRPTC) was established in 2013 to facilitate the development of parks and trials of regional significance outside of the metro area.  They provide recommendations to the legislature for grants provided by the Legacy Parks and Trails Fund.  Monies and resources of the GMRPTC are dedicated to local governments outside the seven-county metropolitan area.

To obtain funding, the ZWT would need to be designated as a regional park or trail by the GMRPTC.  Several area parks have gained that designation and have recieved funding, including Quarry Hill and Gamehaven (both located in the Rochester area).  Designation would allow local government units to obtain state funding to implement park master plans already in place or provide funding for local governments to develop new amenaties.

How did we get here and who is leading this effort?

  • On July 12th, 2017 representatives from the GMRPTC, the Zumbro Watershed Partnership (ZWP), 12 cities and 3 counties met in Oronoco to gauge interest in developing the ZWT, and form a better understanding of the GMRPTC designation and funding process.
  • With the positive reception of the ZWT concept, additional meetings were held in the fall of 2017 to determine roles, formulate an apporach to designation, and further our outreach to potential partner counties and municipalities in the Zumbro Watershed.
  • The City of Oronoco is leading this effort with support from ZWP.
  • After lengthy disucssions with the GMRPTC, we have decided to pursue ranking without developing a master plan for the ZWT; see the chart below.  The Evaluation Track the ZWT will follow is “Application Without Master Plan Submission”

What information and commitment is needed to generate an application for ranking?

  • Support from communities, municipalities, and counties along the Zumbro River and its branches.
    Information from communities, municipalities, and counties that are interested in participating.  This information would include existing master plans, lists of land parcels considered for public use, priorities for recreational opportunities that include use of the Zumbro River or access to its waters, etc.
  • After the above information is complied, Oronoco will submit the single ZWT application to the GMRPTC (ZWP is a non-profit and cannot apply).
  • All participating partners have or will submit their information and community needs to the consultant, who will formalize the application.
  • We are requesting a total of $2,000 to hire a consultant to prepare the application.  The cost will divided among the partners.

If we recieve a High Ranking by the GMRPTC, what’s next?

  • A High Ranking by the GMRPTC evaluation team will allow the ZWT to continue with the next step.
  • A Master Plan for the ZWT will need to be developed and a governance structure determined.
  • Consultant’s fee would be ~$3,000 per city; however, a plan needs to be developed by the ZWT team on how to fairly accomodate the fee for communities of different populations (very large versus very small).
  • The consultant would work with the individual cities to help identify their individual Master Plan and then incorporate that information into the overall ZWT Master Plan.
  • The ZWT Master Plan would be submitted by the City of Oronoco to GMRPTC
  • The GMRPTC will score the ZWT Master Plan and determine if it can be designated as a Regional Trail.
  • The Regional Trail designation would make the ZWT eligible for Legacy Parks & Trails funding.
  • The ZWT team will determine how best to allocate the funding to participating cities.


FUTURE: Branding, marketing, and promotion of the ZWT for recreation and economic development!

Project Contact:
Ryland Eichhorst, City of Oronoco Mayor
Email: oronocomayor@gmail.com
Phone: 507-993-9045