CROWN POINT | Equestrian groups trotted out plans Thursday to make Lake County parks more horse friendly.
"I'd like to see more horse trails," Stan Hatfield, of the Carriage and Sleigh Association of Northwest Indiana, said during a public hearing on what new directions the Lake County Parks and Recreation Department should take in the next five years.
Many in the audience of about 20 were horse advocates, including Lawrence Turnquist, who said Buckley Homestead east of Lowell and Stoney Run County Park east of Crown Point were two areas where existing trails could be expanded.
He said the cost of trail establishment and maintenance is low and many horse clubs would be willing to help.
However, Sandy O'Brien bridled at that idea.
"I have misgivings about willy nilly putting trails everywhere," she said.
She said parks officials should concentrate their efforts on preserving open space for Northwest Indiana butterflies, box turtles and other wildlife.
Marilyn Langbehn, of Hobart, said the county should build a recreational lodge on Big Maple Lake, an underused body of water on the boundary of Deep River County Park.
The parks department already has 6,000 acres of open space, including the Grand Kankakee Marsh park and golf courses. The department also operates facilities ranging from the Bellaboo's Play and Discovery Center in Lake Station to the Deep River Water Park in Merrillville.
Craig Zandstra, special projects coordinator for the department, said the county is currently developing new parks on the south side of Cedar Lake and a wetlands area west of Crown Point. The department also recently purchased the first mile of a proposed bike trail to run east of Crown Point to Hebron on abandoned railroad right of way.