Minnesota State Capitol Dome


Significant victories for parks & trails

The 2023 Legislative Session began Jan. 3 and adjourned May 22, 2023. It resulted in the largest parks and trails investment package in state history. Numerous trails received funding for extensions, and we avoided an onerous permit fee increase.

Fixing crumbling roads, bridges, water systems, and more in parks and trails

CCC bridge
By Lori Warne

We helped secure the largest parks and trails investment package in state history.

Nearly $200 million in capital investments were secured for parks and trails. We are proud to be among a team of organizations and folks working toward this historic achievement for Minnesota’s outdoors.

Parks and Trails SystemFunding Amount
State$94.2 million
Metropolitan Regional$68.8 million
Greater MN Regional$29.1 million
Total$191.5 million

Keeping parks and trails open to all

We helped thwart a proposal that would have put state park entrance fees out of reach

The proposal to increase Minnesota State Parks entrance fees to $45 would have made us the most expensive state in the Upper Midwest. Research shows that higher entrance fees can be a significant barrier for people to access the benefits state parks provide. These barriers would disproportionately affect people already underrepresented in outdoor recreation.

Keeping OHVs out of state parks

We maintained vigilance in protecting state parks from off-highway vehicles (OHVs).

Over the past decade, a small group of legislators has attempted to change the current state law in such a way as to allow off-highway vehicles, including ATVs, to be used for recreation within state parks. P&TC has led the charge in defending state parks against these efforts. We’re happy to report that there were no attempts to formally introduce OHVs to state parks this year.

Trail sign with icon of ATV with line through it

Expanding trail connections across mn

biker on paved trail headed towards bridge with fall colors along the side of the trail
Photo by Jim Schuder

We supported our Friends Group Partners in securing investments to extend eight trails.

We are proud to have provided our partners with critical technical assistance to secure strong investments in building the following trail connections listed in the table below.

Park or TrailProject SummaryFunding SourceFunding Amount
Casey Jones State TrailAcquire, design, engineer, and construct new trail miles.Bonding Bill$1.32 million
Gateway State TrailComplete one mile of trail with a tunnel from Scandia Village Center to William O’Brien State Park on right-of-way already acquired by DNR, including land that P&TC conveyed this year.Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund$2.69 million
Gitchi-Gami State TrailAcquire, design, engineer, and construct four priority trail segments: Lutsen from Ski Hill Road, Tofte, Silver Bay to Tettegouche, and Two Harbors to Flood Bay State Wayside.Bonding Bill$4 million
Glacial Lakes State TrailDesign and construct the final trail segment needed to connect the city of New London to Sibley State Park.Bonding Bill$3 million
Glendalough State ParkComplete the paved multipurpose trail from the bridge at Annie Battle Lake to the park entrance.Bonding Bill$900,000
Heartland-Itasca State Park Spur TrailPredesign, design, and construction of a paved multiple-use trail to connect Itasca to the Heartland State Trail beginning from the park contact station, includes tunnel under U.S. Hwy 71, and continuing from there for about two miles.Bonding Bill$2.4 million
Mill Towns State TrailAcquire, predesign, design, and construct the trail between Riverside Park in Northfield and the Waterford Historic Bridge.Bonding Bill$8.19 million
Maplewood State ParkConstruct a 4.2-mile paved trail through the park to connect with existing segments of the Perham to Pelican Rapids Regional Trail.Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund$2.51 million