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Lee Purrier, Park Rapids, Minn., Published April 17 2014

Letter: Lakes country pipeline should worry eastern ND

The recent surge in economic development in North Dakota due to the Bakken oil boom has seen energetic growth in the Fargo-Moorhead area, which is expected to continue growing and be sustainable for years to come. Fargo itself has emerged as one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and has attracted industries of all categories while making great strides in providing upscale urban attractions such as restaurants, concerts, sports facilities and national champion teams at North Dakota State University.

What is missing in eastern North Dakota is outdoor recreation opportunities that are plentiful starting an hour’s drive to the east and extending over hundreds of square miles dotted with lakes, rivers, small picturesque cities and towns, all kinds of wildlife, forests, trails and even boasting the headwaters of our largest river.

As eastern North Dakota grows, the Lakes Region, centered in Park Rapids, Minn., and bounded by Detroit Lakes, Bemidji and Brainerd, will become more of a magnet for those seeking short-stay getaways in all seasons, not just the tourist months. As a matter of fact, September through May belong to the locals and are readily accessible for hunting, fishing, snow sports, and many small-town social activities.

Equally important is the realization that individuals and small businesses can locate in any of the small cities and towns or even in a lakeside or country home with today’s globally connected technology. Our towns need this infusion of modest population growth to sustain year around prosperity and employment.

Park Rapids, for example, is an ideal small city for all ages with affordable housing, very good medical facilities, excellent schools, shopping variety, low crime rates, virtually no traffic ... too many advantages to list. The neighboring smaller towns of Menahga, Sebeka, Nevis, Akeley, Walker, Hubbard and Dorset offer many of the same advantages for good living.

With that in mind I sent an email to Congressman Rick Nolan, D-Minn., and MSNBC’s Ed Shultz, but with the volume of mail they receive, it’s hard to tell if anyone reads or finds them compelling.

We really need help to bring this beautiful, livable region to the attention of a larger audience, especially with the Sandpiper pipeline issue raising concerns that any environmental damage to this pristine area could have severe and unpredictable long-term effects on tourism and residency.

Since Shultz was a star quarterback for Moorhead State in the ’70s and has a residence in Detroit Lakes, there must be a few old hunting and fishing friends of his around here who might help get his attention and support. We would appreciate it.