For a period of time this spring, it was an open question as to whether the Minnesota Legislature would pass a bonding bill. After some political maneuvering from both sides of the aisle, however, the 2023 bonding bill was signed into law by Governor Walz, releasing a flood of funding for multiple projects across the state, including five community-driven trail projects supported by Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota. In addition, the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) included recommendations for the funding of two more P&TC-supported projects near William O’Brien and Maplewood State Parks. These seven projects had been part of the 2022 bonding bill but were delayed when the end of that session came without consensus on the bill at the Legislature.
P&TC assisted these community-driven projects by publishing factsheets compiled with information provided by our Friends Group Partners, encouraging our partners to find bill authors in both houses of the Legislature, keeping them up to speed on important dates, and making their projects a part of our broader legislative agenda for 2023.
In total, the 93rd Legislative Session funded the following community-driven, P&TC-supported parks and trails projects:
In addition to the projects listed above, P&TC also supported an effort to obtain funding for building a connection between the 29-mile Shooting Star State Trail and the 27-mile WAPSI-Great Western Line Trail in Iowa. Although this project was ultimately not included in the final bonding bill, our partners at the Friends of the Shooting Star State Trail nevertheless deserve credit for their hard work and perseverance at getting this project in front of legislators. We also engaged in various conversations with supporters of the Root River State Trail extension, the Detroit Lakes segment of the Heartland State Trail, and the extension of trail from the entrance of Glendalough State Park to Annie Battle Lake, all of which did ultimately receive funding this legislative session.
Thank you to the following groups who we partnered with to successfully advocate for these vital projects:
Additionally, we’d like to thank the Department of Natural Resources and numerous cities, chambers of commerce, nonprofits, and other local institutions that threw their support behind these projects.
These projects, taken together, represent new opportunities to fill in gaps in trail continuity, improve outdoor recreation facilities across the state, attract tourism revenue, and ensure safe access to and from travel destinations for bikers, pedestrians, and other regular users of our state trails system. Read more about these projects—and P&TC’s broader legislative agenda–at the link here.