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Rhinelander, Crescent Plan Open House to Showcase Heal Creek Trails

Natalie Jablonski

The city of Rhinelander and the town of Crescent are trying to garner public support for a plan to develop recreational trails outside the city, by holding an open house at the site this weekend.  

Town of Crescent Supervisor Joel Knutson is snowshoeing along Heal Creek.  It’s a trout stream that’s located just south of Highway 8, and east of the Northwoods Golf Course.  The only public access to the property is through the golf course land that’s owned by the city.   

Knutson sees the potential for developing an array of silent sports trails for year-round use. 

Credit Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

“And one of the things that’s important is, you can kind of see just by looking at them, these are old trails.  We’re not looking at a lot of improvements to bring them back online.” 

Knutson says not only would trails link up with those available at the golf course, but adjoining landowners have agreed to allow access on parts of their properties too.  He says no other public recreation area offers such a broad range of activities. 

“We want every possible user of a winter trail to be able to find something out here that they like...and summer, hiking…” 

Oneida County invested half a million dollars buying the 270-acre Heal Creek property, with plans for a green business park.  But when no development happened, the county decided to sell it.    

Now the Town of Crescent and the City of Rhinelander want to buy about 200 acres, offering 10,000 dollars and trade of another city-owned parcel. But they face a competing bid from the Hodag Sports Club, which is offering a much larger sum, 280-thousand dollars for the entire property.  Spokeperson Virgil Davis says the club wants the land because it’s adjacent to the club’s rifle range. 

“The interest that we have is to try to not irritate the neighbors with noise.  And if we avoid having some neighbors, then there’s not any complaints.”

The Sports Club says it would enter the land into the managed forest program, which would allow for public access. 

The city of Rhinelander and town of Crescent are hosting an open house at the Heal Creek property on Saturday.  

Volunteers and local businesses will be doing some ski and snowshoe demos as well. 

The event is from 10 to 4 pm Saturday. 

The trails will be open all weekend. 

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