Building The Future Of Tatanka Bluffs

“Economic development is a choice. It is willed within an economy. Economic development occurs when local leaders choose to identify, invest in, and develop their comparative advantages to enable workers, firms, farms, and industries to better compete.” – Steve Buttress

Several years ago, local leaders in Redwood and Renville county made an important choice. We decided that we wanted to ensure a thriving and vibrant economy for future generations, and that we would only reach this goal through actively pursuing development opportunities.

Waukon Rim: Shared Recreational Landscape

The Tatanka Bluffs Corridor vision for a “shared recreational landscape” has roots back to the mid 1990’s and the formation of the Waukon RIM organization in 1995. A coalition of outdoor recreation groups sponsored the organization of Waukon RIM to acquire and manage conservation properties for multiple outdoor recreational activities for the joint memberships of their organizations, the public at large and the generations that would follow in Redwood and Renville Counties.

These sponsoring organizations were:

  • Redwood County Chapter of Pheasants Forever
  • Sunrisers Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association
  • Redwood Falls Sportsmen’s Club
  • Morgan Sportsmen’s Club
  • Minnesota Valley Sno-Riders Snowmobile Club
  • Redwood Valley Riders Saddle Club

Waukon Rim acquired 600 acres of conservation lands that created a shared landscape for horse trail riding, snowmobiling and additional public hunting opportunities. The organization worked cooperatively with willing landowners and the DNR, which helped create even more public recreation opportunities. The acquisition of these additional properties was assisted by the $500,000 in matching RIM critical habitat matching credits that were received from the donation of the 600 acres to the DNR.

Cedar Mountain SNA/WMA Acquisition

The Cedar Mountain acquisition in 2005 was a pivital point for both land acquisition and trail development within the Minnesota River Valley, when the Redwood County Commissioners were asked to approve the transfer of the 480 Manwarren Brother’s parcel southwest of Franklin to the DNR.

Multiple user groups stepped forward to express their concerns with such a large block of land would become an SNA with limited public access for other uses:

  • The Lower Sioux Community Tribal Council expressed their concern that this traditional “vision quest” site would no longer allow traditional Native American ceremonies and the use of horses.
  • The supporters of the Minnesota River Trail for hiking and biking expressed their concern that the acquisition would essentially block a contiguous trail within the valley and force the trail a mile further to the south, if a trail corridor were not included within the boundaries of this acquisition.
  • Supporters of public lands for hunting expressed concern that this acquisition, representing 10% of the public lands within in Redwood County, would be posted with ‘no hunting” signs.

In response to these concerns at Cedar Mountain and for future land acquisitions within the Minnesota River Valley, the Redwood County Commissioners and the DNR developed a policy that all future land acquisitions would accommodate the development of a contiguous trail corridor for the Minnesota River Trail. In addition, by DNR Commissioner’s orders, hunting by archery was allowed at Cedar Mountain and the Lower Sioux Community was allowed to continue to utilize the site for their traditional ceremonies by permit.

Creating a Corridor Economic Advantage

Following the Cedar Mountain SNA/WMA acquisition in 2005, stakeholder groups with various interests from both Redwood and Renville County began meeting and discussing the concept of creating a corridor economic advantage based on identifying the underutilized natural resources with these two counties to create a sustainable, regional recreation destination. This concept was modified from the Blandin Community Leadership Program and its Community Advantage Leadership Program training.

What evolved from these strategic meetings was the belief that we could develop this corridor into an outdoor recreation destination for hunting, fishing, trail riding, biking, hiking, canoeing and all of the other things that people like to do outdoors. Our vision with our unique ecological, cultural and historical resources is that we can also capture an educational component of sharing our stories on the “trails that tell tales” and an exponential economic boost with this dual focus that would positively impact all 26 communities within this two county area.

Why Tatanka Bluffs Corridor?

We wanted a name that would reflect both our heritage and our uniqueness that comes from:

  • the corridor carved out by the Glacial River Warren as it drained Lake Agassiz
  • the prairie paradigm of fire and bison for regeneration of the landscape
  • the Dakota Heritage and the role of “tatanka” (buffalo) within their culture
  • “Bluff Country” – a competing regional destination known for its scenic views and a premier destination for hiking and biking

The Tatanka Bluffs Corridor was formally organized in 2007 with a board of 9 members from the Redwood and Renville County areas. The board meets monthly and holds regional stakeholder meetings each year to identify emerging initiatives and to implement their current plan of work. Please take the time to review the current plan of work on this web site.

For more information about our history, our future, and how you can become involved, please contact us today.