Our commitment to Minnesota’s parks and trails has never been stronger
Ten days ago the Parks & Trails Council office was bustling with the activity of a statewide nonprofit working on multiple fronts. Lisa was making arrangements for our Annual Dinner. Andrew, Ann and I were preparing to present recommendations from our groundbreaking State of the Trails Report to the House Capital Investment Committee. Our board was preparing for a strategic planning retreat. Ashley was getting the word out about our next round of grants to friends groups. Steve was exchanging contracts with the DNR so we could add land to three state parks. And Becky and Barb were doing their magic to keep our operations running efficiently and effectively.
Ten days ago we had never held a staff meeting online. Today it is a necessary part of our daily routines. Our staff is now working remotely as we join with people around the world in following scientists, epidemiologists and public health experts who tell us that now is the time to implement social distancing measures.
But while our routines have been altered by this global pandemic, our work remains just as critical as it was before COVID-19 even had a name. I know this because if you listen closely to the public dialogue taking place right now you hear how important our Great Outdoors – our parks and trails – are to people’s quality of life. Public health experts have repeatedly emphasized the value of being in nature for maintaining mental and physical health.
Unfortunately, the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommendations mean we must cancel our 66th Annual Dinner that was scheduled for April 30. For those of you who have attended this event in the past you know how important it is to us, and we know how important it is to you. Like you, we are disappointed in having to take this action. Rather than trying to reschedule the event at this time we will continue to follow the lead of federal and state health experts to determine if and when it is prudent to do so.
Keep your heads up. We are all in this together
I would be remiss if I didn’t take this moment to express my sincere appreciation to all of you loyal members who have been supporting our work year after year. We couldn’t do what we do without you. All of us at Parks & Trails are thinking of you, and we know you are thinking of us. These are challenging times indeed. But as I sign off for now, I want to leave you with the hope of knowing that the value of nature has never been more obvious than it is right now while we are confined in our homes. And while we may not be able to visit our favorite park or trail, there is nothing that can stop us from imagining hiking through trees with snow covered crystals, the sounds of birds chirping, brooks babbling and even the sounds of our own breath as we exalt in the mystical glory of nature.
In solidarity with you and our Parks and Trails,