Byway Buzz at Heartland Byways Conference
The Paul Bunyan National Scenic Byway was one of the byways highlighted during the Heartland Byways Conference held April 5-7, 2009, in Omaha, Nebraska. About 85 people from Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota attended the three-day Conference.
Minnesota State Byway Coordinator, Mark Anderson, spoke to the group about the diversity among Minnesota’s 22 byways. The various ways byway groups accomplish their objectives, and remain or become sustainable was the focus of his presentation.
Citing the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway as an example of a grassroots organization that has a history of finding unique solutions to addressing its needs, Anderson highlighted the group’s logo signage that reflects their “fun” approach to byway business. He also emphasized that although this group has accessed federal funds for major planning projects, they have also moved forward on several other important projects without relying on federal funding support. The volunteer work, in-kind and cash donations that supported these projects were described as the reasons they succeeded so well. A couple examples he noted of such projects were:
Gateway Gazebo at CSAH 16 and Hwy 371
Interpretive panel kiosks at thirteen Byway locations
In addition to these, Anderson also outlined an innovative approach to byway interpretation taken by the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association through their Historic Mailcarrier Live Theater project that enjoyed a two-year run over the 2007 and 2008 summer seasons.
Anderson concluded his presentation on the work of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association by noting that this group developed the highly regarded “Birds of the Byway’ birding brochure well before birding became the important part of wildlife tourism that it is today.
Other byways from the Lakes area that were a part of the Minnesota State Byway Coordinator’s presentation were Lake Country Scenic Byway, Ladyslipper Scenic Byway and the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.