The following editorial appeared in the Sioux City Journal:

Even casual Our Opinion readers know how important we believe quality of life is to local economic growth and prosperity and how important we believe a connected system of trails for the enjoyment of walkers, runners and bikers is to local quality of life. Members of our editorial board have used this space on many occasions to advocate for trail construction and to applaud efforts taken to expand our metro region’s system of trails.

To these ends, we commend progress achieved by supporters, both private and public, of PlyWood Trail, a proposed $18 million, 16-mile trail between Sioux City and Le Mars, detailed by The Journal’s Bret Hayworth in a page-one story today.

The goal is to build PlyWood Trail in three phases (Le Mars to Merrill, Merrill to Hinton, Hinton to Sioux City) beginning in 2020 and finishing in 2025. A campaign to raise funds for construction and an endowment for maintenance is under way; to date, it’s produced more than $4 million.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the fundraising efforts so far, but we still have a long way to go,” Ryan Meyer, chairman of the PlyWood Trail Foundation, said in a Plymouth County public announcement of the campaign made in Le Mars in April. “Every dollar we raise has the ability to be matched by both state and federal funds.”

The Foundation plans a similar Woodbury County campaign announcement from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 15 at Cone Park in Sioux City. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about PlyWood Trail to attend the event, visit plywoodtrail.org or visit the PlyWood Trail Facebook page.

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Because we share with PlyWood advocates a passion for trails, an appreciation for the many benefits (including economic, health, and safety) they produce and the dream of a tri-state, metro-area system of linked trails second to none, we have supported this project from the start of discussion.

Throughout our metro region, we see, hear and sense appreciation for what we have with respect to trails and enthusiasm for what can be achieved in the future. To their credit, both private and public sectors understand this is a citizen priority and continue to demonstrate, in words and actions, a commitment to growth of the local trail system.

“The PlyWood Trail has great momentum and we’re excited to move forward with our fundraising efforts,” Lesley Bartholomew, a project spokeswoman, told us. “The trail will be a unique feature in Northwest Iowa connecting four communities. It will provide economic development opportunities for those communities and a great place for families to recreate. We know quality-of-life features are important to the citizens of Plymouth and Woodbury counties, and we’re excited to help bring one more option to life.”

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