The options are many.
Now, the hope is many will consider all the options being explored at Missouri River Day Park in Bismarck, N.D. — and that this survey will have an impact on what outdoors options will be available at North Dakota’s first state park since 1989.
Because the options — the possibilities — are amazing. And, finally, a state park right in the city of Bismarck, and right on what makes the Capital City such an outdoors destination, the perfect landing spot for a new state park — the Missouri River.
A week ago, about 125 people attended the lone public input meeting scheduled by the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department. And for those who were unable to attend the meeting but still want to have a say, a survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/missouririverdaypark) allows for that, with options galore.
The 213-acre park is being touted as mostly a primitive day-use area that would not allow camping and have few amenities, which makes it sound more like a recreation area than a state park. But, without camping and those other amenities to worry about, maybe parks and rec can concentrate on possible uses that, along with its location, could set this state park apart from the others in North Dakota.
The survey indicates some interesting possibilities, with a list of 35 uses for the park. Survey-takers are asked to answer “Yes” or “No” or “Unsure” for each, and there’s also a space for “Other” uses and “Suggestions, Comments, Concerns.”
Yes, the possibilities are many and varied: archery, biking, bird-watching, bow-hunting, canine obstacle course, community gardens, concerts, cross-country skiing, dog park, farmers market, geocaching, guided tours, high-ropes courses, horseback riding, hunting dog training, ice fishing, ice skating, inner-tubing.
There’s also kayaking/canoeing, leaf collecting, low-ropes courses, natural playground, orienteering, paddleboarding, photography, picnics, public art displays, remote-controlled vehicles, running, sand volleyball, shore fishing, slacklining, snowshoeing, star-gazing and swimming.
A number of these are low-maintenance, run-of-the-mill activities that can be done just about anywhere, whether the location is a state park or not — bird-watching, leaf collecting, photography, running, snowshoeing, star-gazing. And, on the Missouri River, you don’t necessarily need a state park to ice fish and ice skate in the winter months and paddleboard, kayak/canoe, tube, swim and shore fish in the open-water months, although a state park could offer structure for those activities.
Remote-controlled vehicles sounds interesting. If they mean drones, that would be a pioneer effort, indeed — state parks here in Minnesota and across the Northland are mostly off limits to drones as agencies still try to get their heads around the whole drone phenomenon and its impact on these places.
But, in the Northland, and in regard to state parks as a whole across the region, some of these other possibilities are no-brainers, such as hiking and biking. Trails are a staple of most all state parks across the Northland, and the plan at Missouri River Day Park is for 3.5 miles of multi-use trails to wind through the area’s sand dunes, which could make sand volleyball a viable option as well.
But let’s also think outside the sandbox on the Big Muddy.
At the Feb. 17 meeting, Mark Zimmerman, director of parks and rec, said the goal is to offer a setting where people can interact with nature. Aside from the usual state parks offerings, like hiking, biking, fishing, birding, photography and cross-country skiing, Zimmerman envisions the development of an outdoor learning center, with the potential for art organizations and other groups also shaping its use. So lots of events and gatherings, it would seem.
How about a fat-tire biking event followed by a concert? Or Missouri River Day Dog Day, with events centering around training hunting dogs, the dog park and canine obstacle course? Or a photography outing paired with a public art display? Or geocaching and orienteering along with, say, a farmers market?
Something for all.
Because everyone should have their Day.