Eight people gathered in outdoors
July 30, 2021
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Glendalough Park Partners are the volunteer stewards of the park

A few short years after Glendalough State Park was established in 1991, volunteers banded together to form the Glendalough Park Partners. Their dedication and generosity are reflected in the quality experience this park offers.

Everything from the modern restrooms to the trail signs, from prairie flower transplants to wildlife blinds, and bike fix-it stations to archery equipment; all were made possible, in part by the Park Partner’s fundraising and volunteer labor.

President Steve Nelson explains that while the group has been successful in fundraising, it is the stewardship of the park that is their ultimate goal. “We do all this work because we want the park to remain here as an asset to the community, in its primitive form,” he said.

We wouldn’t be the group we are without the support of the DNR, local community, Parks & Trails Council and many others, who all care about this park.

Steve Nelson, Glendalough Park Partners President

A while back, during shrinking budgets, the park had been on the short list of those threatened with closure. The rationale being that Glendalough had fewer visitors than other parks. So, the group ramped up efforts to add amenities that would draw visitors, such as the paved bike trail.

That trail, which connects into downtown Battle Lake, was built in 2014 and has been a revitalizing force for the park. The Glendalough Park Partners spearheaded a branding campaign called “More Than a Trail,” to promote the expanded opportunities that came with this trail connection.

Building on that success, in 2017 they embarked on goal of building a trail center and completing the trail loop in the park. Knowing this was going to be a major project and require strong cooperation with the MnDNR, they began by developing a 24-page plan.

Drawing on the skills of Joan Vorderbruggen—a local architect and certified forest therapy guide, who uses the park almost every day—the plan included a project rationale, vision, architectural renderings and cost estimates.

Fundraising for the trail center began immediately and to date they’ve raised $200,000 in private philanthropy. Plus, they’ve worked to secure public funds to the tune of $750,000 in state bonds and $250,000 from the state’s Legacy Amendment Funds. This leaves a roughly $800,000 funding gap to complete the Trail Center; an amount they are hopeful they can raise through a capital campaign and additional grants.

Meanwhile, the new trail segment appears to have funds fully secured through state and federal funds and could begin construction next spring.

Beyond fundraising and planning, telling the story of the park is a key element of the Park Partners’ work. Their newsletter shares stories about the people of the park—staff, volunteers and visitors. They also delve into the history. A recent article highlighted the ancient history of stone and copper tools from around 3000 BCE that were found in the park.

Glendalough State Park