Group drops suit trying to block Grandad Bluff ‘Gateway’ trails project

Work to begin immediately on eco-friendly trails for hikers and bikers, ORA Trails says
Picture Perfect – April 2015
Trees blossom below Grandad Bluff.
“Grandad’s Bluff through Blossoming Trees” by Brad Beck Aired 4/28/15

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A neighborhood group withdrew its civil suit against the city of La Crosse that aimed to halt construction of The Gateway trail along Grandad Bluff.

Several individuals and a group that labeled itself the Grandad Bluff Coalition filed the suit May 15, alleging that the trails would cause irreparable environmental damage. They listed lack of funds for pulling back this week, with a court hearing scheduled for Friday.
The Gateway is intended to transform the 160-acre city park into a community access point for hikers and bikers from the bottom of Grandad Bluff on 29th Street to the top of the bluff. It aims to allow the them to stay in the woods to avoid vehicular traffic on heavily traveled Bliss Road.

ORA Trails, the volunteer nonprofit group behind the project, said work would begin immediately, with modern trail designs to help eliminate erosion problems from rogue trails.
“We will continue to listen intently and work closely with neighbors that live near the park to help minimize the arrival of hikers and bikers that will now have a traditional trail head entrance and well-defined access to the park,” said ORA Trails President Kurt Schroeder, “We are sensitive to the change.”

Rock Solid, one of the companies that will help build the trails, has a crew and equipment ready to begin work.

ORA Trails has been leading a two-year, all-volunteer effort to clean trash from the park and graffiti from the bluff walls. Trail designers also took care in planning the trails to steer well-intentioned explorers away from environmentally sensitive areas and keep hikers and bikers on the provided trails, Schroeder said.

ORA Trails had solicited nearly $5,000 in contributions to help defend itself from court action. It promised that money not used for the defense will go toward future trail projects.