Renville County is applying for a grant for the Yellowstone Heritage Trail interpretive plan. The goal is to create a cultural heritage interpretive plan for the historic Yellowstone Trail though Buffalo Lake, Hector, Bird Island, Olivia, Danube, Renville, Sacred Heart, and Granite Falls. The Renville County Historical Society and the Yellowstone Trail Alliance of Western Minnesota (YTAWMN) are leading the effort.

The grant request, in the amount of $59,000, is for research, asset mapping, a strategic and interpretive plan, and city history harvesting events.

The Yellowstone Heritage Trail Interpretive Plan partnership will be formed by gaining the buy-in of project cities and historical societies to serve as overarching partners toward the development of a cultural heritage tourism plan that invites involvement from a full spectrum of potential community private, non-profit and organized stakeholders. Partner communities, like Granite Falls, are being informed of the plan and are being asked to provide general support and assist informing community organizations of the potential to participate in the development of the plan. The Granite Falls City Council voted to support the plan at this weeks meeting.

Most of the groundwork for this has already been laid through the organizational development of the YTAWMN which formed a little over a year ago in January of 2018. The purpose of the group was to coordinate the arts, historic, recreational, and cultural assets between a corridor of communities in which the Yellowstone Trail is utilized as a connecting thread. The committee is made up of members from all communities, with each city having invested funds to become organizational members.

With the Yellowstone Trail as the umbrella branding mechanism, the Renville County Historical Society will hire a paid consultant to work with each of the eight YTAWMN member cities as well as Yellow Medicine and Renville Counties and the Yellow Medicine County Historical Society. The cities will serve the overarching representative for organizations within each community ranging from city historical organizations to Lions clubs.

A consultant will perform research and cultural asset mapping of the eight partner cities in the interest of revealing narrative and physical assets that have the potential to be coordinated between the cities through shared themes to bolster and or create existing or potential cultural heritage tourism draws that other organizations may tie into or build around.

Cultural asset mapping is a foundational step in cultural planning. It identifies a community’s strengths and resources through the process of inventorying tangible and intangible assets. Information from cultural asset mapping will be combined with historical research and community input gathered through history harvest events to inform the development of the interpretive plan through a process that meets the standards of the National Association for Interpretation. Major themes are likely to include Michael J. Dowling, the Cooperative, agriculture, and the Yellowstone Trail. More details will be shared as this effort evolves.