Pedaling to Prosperity: Aaron Hautala Talks About Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails

May 23, 2017

Here in Iowa, we know all too well about what happens when a major local employer leaves a community. That is what happened in Crosby, Minnesota in the early ‘80’s. In 1982, the mining industry left the area, took most of the jobs, and some felt, the future with it.

Aaron Hautala is president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew. He has been a driving force behind an effort to rebrand the area and the community.

“When the mines were closing, mountain bikes hadn’t been invented yet. The industry was still that fresh,” says Hautala.

“On the mine land, there was this open pit mining, so there were these big red piles everywhere of dirt. If you remember the pictures from Mars, that’s what Cuyuna looked like. The mining companies didn’t have any use for the area anymore, so whether it was garbage or illegal activity, this was a destination for it. The people who could leave did.”

Crosby is a much different place today. The town is now home to 27 miles of world class trails for mountain bikes. During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Hautala about how the area redeveloped itself, and why he chooses to live and work there. Andrea Boulton, who is trails and greenways director for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation joins the conversation to talk about how Iowa has put resources toward developing a trails system across the state. 

Toward the end of the hour, we also hear from Angela Book-Glynn, who is a director at the Homestead in Des Moines, which is a residential home for adults living with autism that runs a CSA. Ashley Benelle, who is an austim associate with the Homestead, also joins the conversation.