Trail from Big Sioux Rec Area to Hawarden

A lot of recreational trail development is on schedule for Sioux County in 2023 that will offer connectivity and a pleasant experience such as this paved stretch completed in 2021 connecting the Big Sioux Recreation Area with Hawarden.

SIOUX COUNTY—Producers and landowners in Sioux County find they often are engaged in conversation on a topic that is on the lips of folks across Iowa and much of the Midwest lately.

Everyone it seems, is becoming increasingly informed on the subject of carbon sequestration and the need for ethanol plants to produce a low-carbon intensity product to remain viable in the marketplace.

Carbon-capture pipelines that transport carbon dioxide to underground storage locations are becoming a widely-used means to achieve low-carbon scores.

Summit Carbon Solutions is acquiring easements from Sioux County landowners for construction of nearly 51 miles of pipeline through the county that will capture carbon dioxide that is a byproduct of the ethanol production process and pipe it to North Dakota for permanent storage underground, reducing carbon emissions.

In total, 681 miles of pipeline will be routed through 30 Iowa counties, according to Summit projections. Summit has partnered with 12 ethanol plants in the state, including Siouxland Energy Cooperative west of Sioux Center.

Jeff Altena, chief executive officer with Siouxland Energy Cooperative and a 22-year veteran of the ethanol industry, sees where the future is headed in terms of low-carbon intensity fuels. He cites an Oil Price Information Service conference he attended in San Diego that focused on alternative liquid fuels and carbon offsets in the United States.

He said Siouxland Energy faces the necessity to lower its carbon-intensity score as the destination of its product are West Coast markets that are “carbon conscious.”

“Sequestration must be a permanent capture and storage process to satisfy standards set by the California Air Resources Board,” Altena said. “Oregon and Washington, states that will add to the market base, are modeling their carbon standards after those of California.”

Derek Montgomery and Doug Bergold with Turnkey Logistics, representing client Summit Carbon Solutions, told the Sioux County Board of Supervisors at its Nov. 15 meeting that 67.

Jesse Harris, director of public affairs for Summit Carbon Solutions, said the company has secured 70 percent of the needed land acquisitions for the proposed route of the Midwest Carbon Express pipeline through Sioux County have been obtained.

Recreational trails

Interest in use of trails for bicycling, walking and running has increased in the last few years and Sioux County saw a big jump in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic that has continued since then, according to Brian Van Engen, president of the Sioux County Trail Council.

“Trails are one of the most sought-after amenities for communities nationwide, especially for younger people,” Van Engen said. “We want northwest Iowa to be a place that our children and grandchildren want to move back to.”

Sioux County along with Orange City, Sioux Center and Sioux County Trails Council are hopeful that a Destination Iowa grant will be awarded for the construction of the Northwest Iowa Explorer Trail, a proposed regional connector trail that will link the communities of Alton, Orange City and Sioux Center.

The project will add 8.3 miles of multiuse trail and refurbish a mile of existing trail. It will link to existing multiuse trails to create a system total of more than 25 miles, creating a unified tourism attraction among the three communities and Sandy Hollow Recreation Area.

The enhanced 9.3 miles of trail will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant with a paved surface. It will include one new pedestrian/bicycle bridge for a stream crossing and another retrofitted bridge for pedestrians and bicycles.

Van Engen pointed to the growing popularity of biking everywhere and the fact that more people of all ages are choosing to enjoy a ride on two wheels

“Bicycling in particular has really grown in popularity over the past several years, and that has resulted in increased efforts to add to trail systems both locally and nationally,” he said. “With the introduction of e-bikes, we are seeing an even broader range of people who are able to get out and get some exercise and fresh air. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a northwest Iowa sunset from the back of a bike.”