Cowboy Trail Connection Moves Ahead


Multi-use recreational Cowboy Trail in northern Nebraska – a long trestle over Long Pine Creek

Hiking and biking the Cowboy Trail on the western side is one step closer as the City of Chadron moves forward with an environmental review for the first mile of the Cowboy Trail Connection.

The Chadron City Council awarded Felsburg, Holt and Ullevig the contract Monday to conduct the NEPA study at a cost of $37,601. The Cowboy Trail Connection will eventually connect downtown Chadron to the end of the Game and Park’s portion of the Cowboy Trail near the Museum of the Fur Trade.

Mayor George Klein expressed shock at the cost of a NEPA review.

“My jaw dropped open,” he said.

George Ledbetter of the Northwest Nebraska Trails Association joined the meeting by phone and explained that the bids were higher than expected due to requirements for tribal consultation and storm water assessments triggered by rail-to-trail federal dollars awarded to the project. The city was awarded $178,540 from rail-to-trail funds through the state and another $44,6435 from the Dawes County Travel Board to complete the first mile east of Chadron.

Ledbetter said after discussing the NEPA bids with Game and Parks, NNTA believes there is some room for negotiations with FHU to cut costs, and they will pursue those options. In addition, there is some funding available for the NEPA study from the budget for construction engineering because NNTA has already covered those costs.

While on the phone, Ledbetter noted he was in Lanesboro, Minnesota, which has a rail-to-trail project completed in the 1970s.

The city’s website traces the community’s success to the trail and efforts to focus on the region’s natural beauty, the arts and historic preservation. Lanesboro has a population of 700.  

Nebraska Game and Parks is currently preparing to deck bridges on the Cowboy Trail between Chadron and Hay Springs.

1 thought on “Cowboy Trail Connection Moves Ahead”

  1. Personally, this trail is SO underused it’s not even funny. The fact that tax paying Nebraskans are footing the bill is even worse. I’ve traveled Hwy 20 for decades and rarely see a soul on it. Game and Parks should be repaving campground roads that literally shake a camper to pieces instead of using our hard earned money for this ‘recreational opportunity’.
    A gravel trail?? NO THANKS GAME AND PARKS!

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