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Geospatial Analysis Center

Western Waterfront Trail Extension: Riverside to Morgan Park

Funded by the Center for Community and Regional Research.
Stacey Stark (GAC), Samantha Follis (UMD Geography)

Morgan Park has an abundance of natural resources, green space amenities, and wildlife observation opportunities that are not being fully utilized in regards to the available recreational space. The available land that could be used for the proposed trail route is located along the Lake Superior and Mississippi railroad corridor. For years, this community has lived along the banks of the St. Louis River estuary, now accredited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). Unfortunately, the Morgan Park community has had limited interaction with the waterfront due to lack of accessibility. There is an opportunity here to establish public access to the river so that all can enjoy their natural environment. Developing the WWFT trail linking residential areas to the waterfront is strongly desired by the community. With a trail established and an increase in water access availability, community members will be able to enjoy various recreational activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing of migrating birds, and enjoying the multiple scenic overlooks viewing the St. Louis River estuary.

Samantha Follis, a UMD Geography Student and LISC intern, received a Center for Community and Regional Research Grant to conduct research and write an executive summary of the proposed trail. The various issues that may arise with trail implementation are environmental concern, land use, history of ownership and policy issues.

Stacey Stark’s “GIS in Urban Analysis” class obtained data and created preliminary maps of trail extension possibilities that address six primary objectives of a trail extension: minimize impact on the environment, provide for access to the river and natural areas, provide for recreational opportunities, provide for commuters to downtown, make logical connections to the neighborhood, optimize costs, address ADA access, and cross into areas of notable views.

Samantha is using student input and maps as she continues with her own research of Morgan Park Community, which includes a survey of community wishes for the trail. Stacey Stark and GAC student, Brandon Keineth, attended a Morgan Park Community Club meeting to facilitate the community discussion with GIS maps.

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