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Parks & Trail Council’s land acquisition program gains major potential

Parks & Trail Council is proud to announce a significant advancement in the potential funding of our land acquisition program. For the first time in our history, we have applied for funding from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) to help us acquire land for state parks. On July 20, LCCMR decided to recommend that our project receive $1.866 million in Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) dollars. This recommendation is a vital step in the process, which ultimately must be passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2024.

This considerable financial boost will enable us to make significant strides toward acquiring critical park inholdings.

To put the significance of this achievement into perspective, the LCCMR package heading to the 2024 Legislature encompasses a total of 101 projects out of the 218 proposals initially submitted. The combined total of these recommended projects would allocate nearly $80 million in ENRTF dollars. However, these funds would only become available from July 1, 2024, at the earliest.

Parks & Trail Council’s Land Committee and Board, both past and present, have provided instrumental leadership during this process. Over our 69-year history, P&TC’s land program has relied solely on the generosity of our members. Our current strategic plan took a new approach to emphasize the importance of actively seeking public funds in addition to the critical support provided by members’ donations. Together, these sources of support will increase our land acquisition activities. The LCCMR grant recommendation marks a significant milestone as it would be the first time public funding is included in their funding mix.

There is a tremendous and important need for land acquisition for state parks right now. P&TC has worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to identify key properties within state parks that are privately owned. This funding ensures our ability to secure these key properties from willing sellers. Timing is of the essence, and P&TC has a strong track record of being a trusted partner in land transactions for parks and trails.

While the road to securing the LCCMR funding is not yet complete, this positive recommendation reflects the dedication and hard work of the Parks & Trail Council in advocating for the state park inholding acquisition project. Our ongoing efforts to seek public and private funds align with our commitment to safeguarding natural resources and promoting outdoor recreation opportunities.

Let us remain hopeful that the 2024 Legislature will recognize the value of this endeavor and allocate the necessary funds to make it a reality. Together, we can shape a better future for our state’s parks and trails, ensuring they continue to be cherished and enjoyed by all.