Tolif Hunt, executive director of the Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, was one of the speakers at a Carroll Area Development Corporation session in this southern Carroll County city on Tuesday. He is pictured here outside of the Bur Oak Visitors Center at Whiterock. <em>Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns</em>
Tolif Hunt, executive director of the Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, was one of the speakers at a Carroll Area Development Corporation session in this southern Carroll County city on Tuesday. He is pictured here outside of the Bur Oak Visitors Center at Whiterock. Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

COON RAPIDS — One of the leaders of a push to expand the Raccoon River Valley Trail system from Coon Rapids to Herndon said Tuesday that such an extension be a major step in a long-term project to link Carroll and Coon Rapids with a trail.

Rachel Garst, executive director of the non-profit Creating Great Places in Coon Rapids, said supporters of the 17-mile CR-Herndon extension recently met with Iowa’s congressional delegation to seek funding for the estimated $8 million project.

Garst told the Carroll Area Development Corporation during a noon meeting at the Bur Oak Visitors Center that the CR-Herndon trail extension would establish Coon Rapids as hub or major crossroads for other trails, and provide a crucial linchpin for a broader network that could connect Carroll and Lake View and the Sauk Trail to Coon Rapids, and in turn, the Raccoon River Valley Trail.

“I’m just here today to ask for all of your support,” Rachel Garst said.

She provided no proposal at this point on a route between Coon Rapids and Carroll — “which will be a whole other ball of wax,” Garst said.

The extensions between Coon Rapids and Herndon and Coon Rapids and Carroll would mean hikers and bicyclists could get from the Des Moines area to Carroll and Lake View on trails. Coon Rapids also could link with the T Bone Trail in Audubon. What’s more the Coon Rapids-Herndon section would be a part of a growing North American trails system.

The Coon Rapids-Herndon trail would be called the “Khrushchev in Iowa” trail because it follows the 1959 route of then Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on his visit to the Garst farm in Coon Rapids. While located in Guthrie County, much of the economic-development lift would flow to Carroll County, Garst said.

The CADC session in Coon Rapids also provided an opportunity to showcase the $520,000 Bur Oak Visitors Center at the Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids, which was completed in late fall of 2009 and constructed with monies from a Vision Iowa CAT grant.

It is designed to serve as a location where visitors can learn about local outdoor attractions as well as a rentable meeting hall located on Whiterock Conservancy’s extensive trail system.

Whiterock executive director Tolif Hunt said the facility already has been the site of graduation receptions and some agricultural-related meetings. It was officially dedicated last month.