The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has reached an agreement with the retired owner of the Minnesota Zephyr railroad to buy a 6.5 mile stretch of railbed near Stillwater.
DNR commissioner Mark Holsten said the state now has the sole right to buy the property at a price that has yet to be disclosed. Plans are underway for a new recreation trail on the railbed that would connect the Willard Munger State trail and Stillwater.
Holsten said the proposed trail would access one of the metro's few remaining viable trout streams.
"This will really engage the public in wanting to utilize this trail even more than they do today," he said.
Holsten said Washington County has agreed to contribute $1 million dollars toward the purchase. He said if the DNR can't come up with the rest of the money out of its own coffers, it'll appeal to the State Legislature.
"We're looking through available resources of other acquisitions that have fallen through other revenues that we have to see if we can put a package together," Holsten said.
The DNR expects a trail on the railbed would attract more than 250,000 people a year.