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Pembina Gorge has trails to blaze

Beautiful Pembina Gorge in North Dakota

The majestic Pembina Gorge is now accessible through a trail system operating as a state recreation area. PHOTO BY DAN KOECK

One of North Dakota’s most spectacular sights to behold has now become accessible to the adventurous public. The Pembina Gorge now features a motorized and non-motorized trail system, operating as a state recreation area, managed by the North Dakota Parks and Recreation department.

 “We want to get people out into the woods, to develop an appreciation of the Pembina Gorge,” says Mike Duerre, the state recreation area site manager there. “So, building trails and developing access really helps develop that appreciation,” he says, adding that safety and security for trail users is a high priority.

 The motorized trail for all-terrain vehicles is encompassed in a 22 mile loop, with 15.5 miles of trails in the Pembina Gorge. There is a six-mile hiking trail into the gorge, and a 1.5 mile trail into the Tetrault Woods area of the gorge.

 The Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area headquarters and visitor center is located in the Frost Fire Mountain ski lodge, seven miles west of Walhalla.

 United Communications, based in Langdon, provides the fiber optic broadband connection to this location. This internet service to the Pembina Gorge is part of the overall United Communications plan to achieve fiber optic buildout across its service territory.

 “We’re building out the fiber optic, and trying to do a few exchanges every year,” says Ross Feil, United Communications facility manager.  “Last year we completed the Landon exchange, which would be the western part of the Pembina Gorge, on the west side of the Pembina River. This year we’re doing the Walhalla exchange, and that’s where the majority of the gorge is located,”

 Feil says plowing ground to lay the fiber optic cable is done through collaborations with counties and townships, utilizing existing rights of way, and drilling/trenching methods that minimize impacts on the exceptional terrain in the Pembina Gorge region.

 

FCC’s Rosenworcel visits Mandan school

With Mandan 8th graders, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jessica Roseworcel discussed the importance of programs supporting high speed internet resources in education. Photo by NDAREC/Liza Kessel
With Mandan 8th graders, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jessica Roseworcel discussed the importance of programs supporting high speed internet resources in education. Photo by NDAREC/Liza Kessel

Last month, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel visited North Dakota, accompanied by U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp. One of the stops they made was at the Mandan Middle School. While there, Roseworcel joined nearly 60 8th grade science students for a Skype conversation with Dr. Karen Nyberg, the only graduate of the University of North Dakota to have explored space. The session reinforced how high-speed internet in schools helps enable students to access more education resources and information, and increase learning.

The visit highlighted the importance of E-Rate, a federal program run by the FCC that enables schools and libraries in rural states and small cities to build out reliable high-speed internet and improve educational opportunities for students. Mandan Middle School has received E-Rate funds for several years to build out its high-speed wireless internet capabilities, enabling them to have the real-time, live conversation with a NASA astronaut in Houston.

“E-Rate is the nation’s largest education technology program,” said Rosenworcel. “Thanks to recent changes to the program, E-Rate helps provide schools in North Dakota and the rest of the country with the broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity they need to prepare our students for the digital future.”

“Commissioner Rosenworcel and I saw that firsthand the 8th graders in Mandan concluding a semester of studying space by Skyping with a NASA astronaut located in Houston – 1,400 miles from Mandan,” Heitkamp said.