Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota’s annual advocacy workshop, held on Feb. 24, was filled with opportunities for our supporters and friends group members across the state to meet and learn about the upcoming legislative session.
The day started with a poster session showcasing the work of 20 friends groups, whose efforts are being supported through our legislative agenda. Many of these groups are working to create or extend state trails that have been in the works for years. Other groups support state or regional parks that are seeking funds to renovate buildings and amenities.
Andrew Oftedal, P&TC’s research and policy specialist reviewed our top priorities for the upcoming legislative session, which begins Mar. 8. We are looking for a $105 million bonding package for parks and trails. The majority of the funds ($57.5 million) are for rehabilitating important buildings, trails, natural resources and other amenities. About a quarter of the funds ($27.7 million) would help to acquire and develop portions of 11 state trails. And the final quarter would be used for regional parks and trails.
Several legislators participated in the event. Rep. Alice Hausman received a standing ovation when presented with the Legislator of Distinction Award that recognized her outstanding work to support parks and trails. Rep. Hausman was joined by Rep. Dean, Rep. Urdahl and Sen. Tomassoni during the legislative panel the P&TC’s government relations consultant, Ann Lenczewski moderated.
At the end of the event, participants were asked to sign an “Ambassador Pledge” saying they will meet with legislators, contact legislators on topics P&TC alerts them to, recruit another ambassador, host a legislator visit to a park or trail, and spread the word about our work.