Fish, Wildlife Area, Trails Discussed

By Eric X. Viccaro

EVICCARO@STEGENHERALD.COM

The Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen conducted a work session on Sept. 24 at City Hall covering three issues.

The main topic was future recreational use of the area surrounding the Urban Design Levee with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service preparing to take over the area.

But first, the Joint Levee Commission will convene in a special session at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26 at Ste. Genevieve City Hall.

The commission will meet with the expectation to allow one member to assign the necessary deeds over to the city of Ste. Genevieve, city administrator Happy Welch said in his most recent report.

The city would like to dedicate a portion of the property east of the levee to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It’s the eventual goal for all parties to “encourage” recreational uses of the area along with help from the federal government.

City administrator Happy Welch said, with the feds involved, this will be a “one to two year process,” a timeline similar to downtown’s national park service gateway transformation.

“We would like to create a connection between the city and the river,” Welch said.

Right now, there isn’t adequate walking access from the downtown area to the levee and the Mississippi River.

A representative from a local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Office, former tourism director Sandra Cabot, park board member John Karel, field operations supervisor Gary Roth and historian Robert Mueller were among those to participate in the discussions.

It’s the goal to create a series of pedestrian and bike trails near the levee, off Division Street — with the possibility of renaming a portion of the road in honor of noted birder Stormy Crawford.

Levee board District No. 3, spearheaded by superintendent Norman Gallup, has been working hard to improve the area with culvert piping and ditch diversion, to paraphrase Mayor Paul Hassler.

The city would like to place signage in this area describing native birds and fish, with a price tag of $7,500.

The area in question also features roughly 35 acres of farmland Brian Kertz currently tends to, Cabot reported. Because of flooding, the area doesn’t yield crops every single year.

The Fish and Wildlife Service representative handed out brochures with information on current refuges located along the Mississippi River.

Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan asked a question about who would maintain the area, and it was reported the feds would take on all management.

The levee board currently maintains a part of it, including some tree lines.

Elected officials also discussed naming various trails after people of historic importance.

Donovan suggested late Sgt. Michael Beckerman and former levee district chairman Emerald Loida. Others opined for current levee board president Vern Bauman, deceased U.S. Representative Bill Emerson and ex-Presidential candidate Richard Gephardt.

Since the land is located within city limits, it’s considered a non-hunting area.

OTHER ITEMS

• City leaders also had discussions on possibly abandoning a section of Glenda Street, which is located near the railroad line and South Gabouri Creek. 

The decision would impact one homeowner (Angela Rehm) directly, and 14 other property owners indirectly. Other streets in the area are La Croix, St. Francis and Dupont.