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After promoting over 30 events on the state trail Friends of the Gandy Dancer Trail have made big moves in 2019 and are looking to expand.

The group has 125 members and have created an online presence, an organizational brand and retail merchandise. Heidi Hanson is the president of Friends of Gandy and presented new information to the County Board last week.

“We want to be a presence in our community, helping our counties promote, maintain, and enhance the Gandy Dancer State Trail for people powered activities,” Hanson said.

One of the first events of the 2020 season will be their annual Earth Day Clean Up along the Gandy Dancer Trail. In 2019, the group filled about 50 large trash bags along 16 miles of the trail in Burnett and Polk counties. They even found a small hot tub just off the trail.

There were about 80 volunteers out on Earth Day at various points cleaning up the 47-miles of trail spanning from St. Croix Falls to Danbury.

Friends of Gandy were out on the trails following the massive storm that went through Polk County last July.

Other events this year include Tails on the Trails, which will be for pet owners on the trail. They are also supporting the 3rd Annual Fat Fish Forty bike race which will be held May 9 starting in Webster.

The race went from 90 riders in 2018 to 200 last year. And this year will include a 100-mile challenge for riders.

Friends of Gandy applied for a grant allowing them to get two bikes for the Luck Library which can be checked out with a library card.

Hanson and others in the Friends of the Gandy group were strongly opposed to opening up the trail to motorized-use in the summer months when the trail is designated for silent sports like walking, running and bike riding.

“The trail means a lot to my family and others,” Hanson said. “Families are out enjoying the trail.”

More information on the Friends of the Gandy Dancer Trail can be found at gandydancertrail.org. More information on the Fat Fish Forty can be found at fatfishrace.com.