River at Crow Wing State Park

2020 Legislative Priorities

Policy

Keep State Parks quiet and natural

During the last two legislative sessions (2018 and 2019) unsuccessful attempts were made to pass bills allowing for off-highway vehicles (OHVs) use within state parks.

We oppose all efforts to introduce or expand the use of OHVs in state parks.

Learn more

Portion of Lake Vermilion State Park opens to OHVs

Map of Lake Vermilion State Park showing the newly designated secondary unit area

Map of Lake Vermilion State Park showing the newly designated secondary unit area

All-terrain vehicle (ATV) advocates have been pushing to open up state parks to ATVs for years, and in 2020 their focus was on Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park in northeast Minnesota. Lake Vermilion is a little different from other parks where ATVs have tried to gain a foothold. When the park was created in 2010, the intention (detailed in the park’s master plan) was to build an ATV campground in the southeast corner of the park, which is separated from the rest of the park by busy Highway 169 and also adjacent to already-existing ATV trails. Because the Outdoor Recreation Act prohibits ATVs within state parks, however, the proposed campground was always on shaky legal ground, and we argued building it would set a dangerous precedent. In addition to appropriating $5.8 million to build the campground, the 2020 Special Session Bonding Bill also designated the portion of the park south of Highway 169 as a “secondary unit” to be managed as a state recreation area, which has less restrictive rules than do state parks. “Secondary units” are extremely rare, but they are allowed under the Outdoor Recreation Act. While this change does respect the letter of the law, we’re concerned that “secondary units” could be used as a Trojan horse to allow ATVs in the middle of state parks or on trail corridors through state parks. We’ll remain vigilant and fight against any such efforts.

Funding

Accelerate the pace of state trail rehabilitation

Extensive research indicates that Minnesota’s state trails require between $4-6 million to remain the vital assets upon which Minnesotans have come to rely.

We urge the legislature to fund state trail rehabilitation at $4.8 million annually.

Learn more
Girl bikes on a paved trail away from the tunnel

Funding

Fix critical infrastructure in state parks and trails

The MnDNR’s assets, such as shower buildings, trail bridges, water systems, etc., have been neglected because of insufficient funding. The agency’s assessment shows that more than a quarter of their roughly 2,852 buildings are in poor to crisis-level condition.

We support the agency’s request for bonding funds to address this backlog and restore these important assets.

MnDNR Report

Status: Partially Funded

The bonding bill includes $20 million to fix critical infrastructure such as bridges, buildings, wastewater systems and more within DNR-managed lands (e.g., forestry, fish and wildlife, and parks and trails). This appropriation is far below Gov. Tim Walz’s request of $70 million and many important projects will have to be delayed.

Entity Format Date Amount Doc
Mn DNR Request January 2020 $137 million PDF
Gov. Tim Walz Recommendation January 2020 $70 million PDF
House House Bill May 16, 2020 – Bill was not passed as amended 81 votes required $65 million HF2529
Senate Senate Bill May 17, 2020 – Bill was not passed $19 million SF 3463
Joint (House and Senate)
Omnibus Bonding Bill October 2020 – Bill passed
$20 million
Gov. Tim Walz
Law
October 22, 2020 – Bill signed into law
$20 million Ch. 3–HF1

Funding

Continue to invest in local and regional parks and trails

The grant programs established under Minnesota Stat. 85.019 have provided critical funds for acquiring, developing, and enhancing parks and trails within city or regional systems.

View details about the grant programs:

We support an appropriation of $4 million in bonding funds to continue these vital grant programs.

15 people with shovels and hardhats and sign announcing the Swedish Immigrant Trail

Funding

Investing in metropolitan regional parks and trails

Parks & Trails Council supports the Metropolitan Council’s request for state bonding funds, which are partially matched by the Metropolitan Council, to improve and expand the Metropolitan Regional Parks System.

Go to Metro Parks Website

The bonding bill includes $5 million for grants to regional parks and trails in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.

Format Date Amount Doc
Metropolitan Council Request January 2020 $15 million PDF
Gov. Tim Walz Recommendation January 2020 $10 million PDF
House Bill May 16, 2020 – Bill was not passed as amended 81 votes required $10 million HF2529
Senate Bill May 17, 2020 – Bill was not passed $4 million SF 3463
Joint (House and Senate) Omnibus Bonding Bill
October 2020 – Bill passed $5 million
Gov. Tim Walz Chapter Law
October 22, 2020 – Bill signed into law $5 million Ch. 3–HF1

Funding

Supporting community-driven trail projects

Trails are vital assets that communities need to increase access to the outdoors, promote healthy living, drive tourism and provide climate-friendly transportation options. Parks & Trails Council is working with volunteer groups as they advocate for building the following trails in their communities:

  • Blazing Star State Trail
  • Gateway State Trail
  • Goodhue Pioneer State Trail
  • Heartland State Trail – Itasca Connection
  • Lake Snoopy Trail
  • Mill Towns State Trail

The following projects were funding in the 2020 Bonding Bill

Park or Trail Name Managing Entity Project description Amount
STATE TRAILS
Blazing Star MnDNR To complete the segment between the cities of Albert Lea and Hayward, connecting both cities to Myre-Big Island State Park. $1.74 million
Camp Ripley-Veterans MnDNR for trail development. $1 million
Heartland MnDNR Project 1: For land acquisition, final engineering, and design of the proposed trail segment between its current terminus at Becker County CSAH 10 and Trunk Highway 87 in Frazee, and for the construction of a trail bridge over Becker County CSAH 10. $2 million
Heartland MnDNR Project 2: For final engineering and design of the trail segment located within Itasca State Park and for the construction of a trail tunnel under Hwy 71. $2 million
STATE PARKS
Lake Bronson MnDNR For design, engineering, and construction to repair, reconstruct, or remove publicly owned dams and respond to dam safety emergencies on publicly owned dams. Of this appropriation, at least $18,000,000 is for the reconstruction of the Lake Bronson Dam in Lake Bronson State Park. $18 million of the $20 million total
Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine MnDNR For the predesign, design, and construction of a campground and related infrastructure (see details above in the OHV section). $5.8 million
William O’Brien MnDNR For the predesign, design, and construction of accessibility improvements. $3 million
REGIONAL and LOCAL TRAILS
City of Ely To complete predesign, design, construction, furnishing, and equipping the trailhead facility with parking, visitor information, and restrooms for trail users on the west end of the city near marked Trunk Highway 169. $1.5 million
City of Hastings To predesign, design, and construct a separate trail for pedestrian and bicycle users along the marked Trunk Highway 316 corridor in the city. $1.5 million
City of Rogers To acquire property for and to design and construct a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over marked Interstate Highway 94 approximately one mile northwest of the interchange at marked Trunk Highway 101. This appropriation includes money for construction of a bituminous trail to connect to the existing trail system. $2.2 million
City of Shakopee To acquire land or interests in land, predesign, design, engineer, and construct a pedestrian and bicycle overpass over marked Trunk Highway 169, and establish new trail segments, to connect the Southbridge neighborhood and Quarry Lake Park. $2 million
Lake Links Various cities around White Bear Lake For grants to complete design and construction of a multiuse paved trail and route for pedestrians, bicycles, and wheelchairs around White Bear Lake in Ramsey and Washington Counties, as follows: (1) $2,600,000 of this appropriation is for a grant to the city of Dellwood in Washington County to design, engineer, construct, and equip trail improvements consistent with the completed preliminary engineering along or parallel with the shore of White Bear Lake between the Mahtomedi city limits and the western line of Washington County; (2) $500,000 of this appropriation is for a grant to White Bear Township in Ramsey County to design, engineer, construct, and equip trail improvements along and parallel with the shore of White Bear Lake between the Washington County line and the city limits of the city of White Bear Lake, Ramsey County; and (3) $500,000 of this appropriation is for a grant to the city of White Bear Lake in Ramsey County to design, engineer, construct, and equip trail improvements along or parallel with the shore of White Bear Lake between the eastern city limits of White Bear Lake and Pacific Avenue. $3.6 million
Mississippi Riverfront City of Winona to construct a paved trail from Levee Park to Lions Park along the Mississippi River in the city of Winona. $2 million
Mississippi River Trail City of Minneapolis (a) To design and construct a trail connection paralleling the Mississippi River between 26th Avenue North and the Minneapolis Grand Rounds at Ole Olson Park, all within Above the Falls Regional Park. This appropriation is intended to augment work being completed by the city of Minneapolis to reconstruct and create a multimodal corridor beginning at Theodore Wirth Regional Park and extending east to the Mississippi River along 26th Avenue North. (b) All project lighting must follow the International Dark Sky Community Program guidelines, published June 2018, and follow best practices for bird-safe lighting. The height of any beacon light must comply with the Minneapolis shoreland overlay district ordinance governing height of structures. A beacon light must be off from March 15 to May 31 and August 15 to October 31 each year, and off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. at all other times of the year. All lighting must be shielded and use bird-safe light colors. $3 million
Oberstar Pine County To construct a 1.9-mile segment of the trail. $650,000
Perham to Pelican Rapids Ottertail County For the predesign and design of a trail segment located within Maplewood State Park. $375,000
Rice Creek North Anoka County for trail segments in Circle Pines and Lino Lakes $500,000
City of Silver Bay to predesign, design, construct, furnish, and equip a multimodal trailhead center for the various hiking, bicycling, snowmobile, and all-terrain vehicle trails that converge in the area. The center includes separated trail access for motorized and nonmotorized users and open space for trail users, parking, a wayside rest area, and a new trailhead center building that includes lavatories and showers. $1.1 million
Veterans Memorial Greenway Dakota County To construct improvements for the Greenway, including memorials, a community gathering space, and a new trail connection between Lebanon Hills Regional Park and the Mississippi River. $5 million
REGIONAL PARKS
Battle Creek Ramsey County To design, construct, furnish, and equip a maintenance building for the Nordic ski competition and winter recreation area, including related earthwork and landscaping, and for a marker commemorating the Olympic accomplishments of Minnesotan Jessie Diggins, in Battle Creek Regional Park. $1.8 million
Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary City of St. Paul For the Wakan Tipi Center project. The city may enter into a lease or management agreement under Minnesota Statutes, section 16A.695. This appropriation is added to the appropriation for the Nature Sanctuary Visitor Center. $1 million
Cascade City of Rochester For predesign, design, construct, furnish, and equip improvements of a capital nature, including a pavilion, an amphitheater, performance facilities, picnic shelters, restroom facilities, play areas, park access, and landscaping. $2.5 million
Lake Waconia Carver County To design, construct, and equip a waterfront pavilion with restrooms and a concession building, and to design, construct, and equip utility connections. $2.5 million
Mississippi Gateway Three Rivers Park District To predesign, design, and engineer improvements, and to construct a canopy walkway and playground development, pedestrian trail connections, landscape restoration and enhancements, and habitat restoration. $5 million

image of a report cover

Previous Years' Agendas

2019 Legislative Agenda

A budget that works for parks and trails

There is a $3 million gap in Minnesota State Parks and Trails’ budget. The Legislature could fix this by restoring the General Fund appropriation to $27 million.

Equitable use of Legacy Funds

We support the concept of equity, coordination and balance between the needs and priorities of Minnesota’s three major park and trail systems. We believe future fund allocations should be a compromise agreed to by the Minnesota DNR, Metropolitan Regional Parks and Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails.

Support LCCMR recommendations

We support the full recommendation of the Legislative-Citizen Commission of Minnesota Resources, which includes $16 million to fund twelve park and trail projects.

Keep State Parks natural and quiet

We oppose any change that would introduce the use of recreational off-highway vehicles in Minnesota State Parks.

2019 Session Recap

The 2019 Legislative Session lasted from January 5 – May 20, 2019. Read our session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2018 Legislative Agenda

Grassroots Initiatives

We work with local volunteers around the state to identify and complete park and trail projects from the ground up. In 2018 we’re helping 14 communities advocate at the capitol to get their project funded.

Management Needs

We work with park and trail managers to secure the resources they need. In 2018 we’re advocating for rehabilitation and development dollars, plus critical funding for important grant programs.

Smart Policy

We work with policy experts to advocate for smart park and trail policies. In 2018 we’re fighting to keep state parks quiet and natural by opposing the potential introduction of off-highway vehicles.

2018 Session Recap

Read our 2018 session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2017 Legislative Agenda

Budget & Policy Priorities

  • Fully fund Minnesota State Parks and Trails
  • No new taxes for State Trail users
  • Keep Minnesota State Parks free from the noise and undue artificiality of off-highway vehicles, including ATVs

Capital Investment Priorities

Minnesota’s parks and trails have substantial unmet capital investment needs. Working with park agencies and local friends groups, Parks & Trails Council has identified over $100 million worth of park and trail projects ready for funding. All of these projects have been in the works for years, and were put on hold following the failure to pass a bonding bill in 2016. Projects include

  • $57.5 million for State Parks and Trails Rehabilitation and Renewal
  • $31.2 million for State Parks and Trails Acquisition and Development
  • $11 million for Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails
  • $6.6 million for Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails

2017 Session Recap

Read our 2017 session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2016 Legislative Agenda

  • Bonding bill to revitalize, update and expand parks and trails across Minnesota
    • $57.5 million for State Park and Trail rehabilitation
    • $27.7 million for State Park and Trail Acquisition and Development
    • $13 million for Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails
    • $6.6 million for Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails
View Full 2016 Agenda

Cover of the Legislative agenda 2016

2015 Legislative Agenda

  • Restore and expand General Funds for Minnesota’s state parks and trails
  • Create a stunning park and trail legacy for future generations
  • Reinvest in Minnesota’s state park and trail’s aging infrastructure
  • Continue building Minnesota’s parks and trails through the Environment & Natural Resource Trust Fund
  • Strengthen policies that protect and enhance Minnesota’s parks and trails
View Full 2015 Agenda

2015 Legislative agenda cover

2014 Legislative Agenda

  • We support the DNR’s $77.1 million bonding request, plus an additional $10.95 million for the state trails initiative.
  • We support the Metropolitan Council’s full bonding request to support metro regional parks and trails
  • We urge the legislature to fund all, or part, of the LCCMR’s recommended parks and trails projects
  • We support the full DNR request for the state to purchase certain School Trust Fund land with an added provision to also purchase trail easements/leases
View Full 2014 Agenda

2013 Legislative Agenda

  • Restore base funding to operate State Parks and Trails
  • Make Legacy Funds truly transformative for our parks and trails
  • 13 trail projects still backlogged from 2010 vetoes; It is time to build
View Full 2013 Agenda

2013 Leg Agenda Cover

2019 Legislative Agenda

A budget that works for parks and trails

There is a $3 million gap in Minnesota State Parks and Trails’ budget. The Legislature could fix this by restoring the General Fund appropriation to $27 million.

Equitable use of Legacy Funds

We support the concept of equity, coordination and balance between the needs and priorities of Minnesota’s three major park and trail systems. We believe future fund allocations should be a compromise agreed to by the Minnesota DNR, Metropolitan Regional Parks and Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails.

Support LCCMR recommendations

We support the full recommendation of the Legislative-Citizen Commission of Minnesota Resources, which includes $16 million to fund twelve park and trail projects.

Keep State Parks natural and quiet

We oppose any change that would introduce the use of recreational off-highway vehicles in Minnesota State Parks.

2019 Session Recap

The 2019 Legislative Session lasted from January 5 – May 20, 2019. Read our session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2018 Legislative Agenda

Grassroots Initiatives

We work with local volunteers around the state to identify and complete park and trail projects from the ground up. In 2018 we’re helping 14 communities advocate at the capitol to get their project funded.

Management Needs

We work with park and trail managers to secure the resources they need. In 2018 we’re advocating for rehabilitation and development dollars, plus critical funding for important grant programs.

Smart Policy

We work with policy experts to advocate for smart park and trail policies. In 2018 we’re fighting to keep state parks quiet and natural by opposing the potential introduction of off-highway vehicles.

2018 Session Recap

Read our 2018 session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2017 Legislative Agenda

Budget & Policy Priorities

  • Fully fund Minnesota State Parks and Trails
  • No new taxes for State Trail users
  • Keep Minnesota State Parks free from the noise and undue artificiality of off-highway vehicles, including ATVs

Capital Investment Priorities

Minnesota’s parks and trails have substantial unmet capital investment needs. Working with park agencies and local friends groups, Parks & Trails Council has identified over $100 million worth of park and trail projects ready for funding. All of these projects have been in the works for years, and were put on hold following the failure to pass a bonding bill in 2016. Projects include

  • $57.5 million for State Parks and Trails Rehabilitation and Renewal
  • $31.2 million for State Parks and Trails Acquisition and Development
  • $11 million for Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails
  • $6.6 million for Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails

2017 Session Recap

Read our 2017 session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2016 Legislative Agenda

  • Bonding bill to revitalize, update and expand parks and trails across Minnesota
    • $57.5 million for State Park and Trail rehabilitation
    • $27.7 million for State Park and Trail Acquisition and Development
    • $13 million for Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails
    • $6.6 million for Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails
View Full 2016 Agenda

Cover of the Legislative agenda 2016

2015 Legislative Agenda

  • Restore and expand General Funds for Minnesota’s state parks and trails
  • Create a stunning park and trail legacy for future generations
  • Reinvest in Minnesota’s state park and trail’s aging infrastructure
  • Continue building Minnesota’s parks and trails through the Environment & Natural Resource Trust Fund
  • Strengthen policies that protect and enhance Minnesota’s parks and trails
View Full 2015 Agenda

2015 Legislative agenda cover

2014 Legislative Agenda

  • We support the DNR’s $77.1 million bonding request, plus an additional $10.95 million for the state trails initiative.
  • We support the Metropolitan Council’s full bonding request to support metro regional parks and trails
  • We urge the legislature to fund all, or part, of the LCCMR’s recommended parks and trails projects
  • We support the full DNR request for the state to purchase certain School Trust Fund land with an added provision to also purchase trail easements/leases
View Full 2014 Agenda

2013 Legislative Agenda

  • Restore base funding to operate State Parks and Trails
  • Make Legacy Funds truly transformative for our parks and trails
  • 13 trail projects still backlogged from 2010 vetoes; It is time to build
View Full 2013 Agenda

2013 Leg Agenda Cover

2019 Legislative Agenda

A budget that works for parks and trails

There is a $3 million gap in Minnesota State Parks and Trails’ budget. The Legislature could fix this by restoring the General Fund appropriation to $27 million.

Equitable use of Legacy Funds

We support the concept of equity, coordination and balance between the needs and priorities of Minnesota’s three major park and trail systems. We believe future fund allocations should be a compromise agreed to by the Minnesota DNR, Metropolitan Regional Parks and Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails.

Support LCCMR recommendations

We support the full recommendation of the Legislative-Citizen Commission of Minnesota Resources, which includes $16 million to fund twelve park and trail projects.

Keep State Parks natural and quiet

We oppose any change that would introduce the use of recreational off-highway vehicles in Minnesota State Parks.

2019 Session Recap

The 2019 Legislative Session lasted from January 5 – May 20, 2019. Read our session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2018 Legislative Agenda

Grassroots Initiatives

We work with local volunteers around the state to identify and complete park and trail projects from the ground up. In 2018 we’re helping 14 communities advocate at the capitol to get their project funded.

Management Needs

We work with park and trail managers to secure the resources they need. In 2018 we’re advocating for rehabilitation and development dollars, plus critical funding for important grant programs.

Smart Policy

We work with policy experts to advocate for smart park and trail policies. In 2018 we’re fighting to keep state parks quiet and natural by opposing the potential introduction of off-highway vehicles.

2018 Session Recap

Read our 2018 session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2017 Legislative Agenda

Budget & Policy Priorities

  • Fully fund Minnesota State Parks and Trails
  • No new taxes for State Trail users
  • Keep Minnesota State Parks free from the noise and undue artificiality of off-highway vehicles, including ATVs

Capital Investment Priorities

Minnesota’s parks and trails have substantial unmet capital investment needs. Working with park agencies and local friends groups, Parks & Trails Council has identified over $100 million worth of park and trail projects ready for funding. All of these projects have been in the works for years, and were put on hold following the failure to pass a bonding bill in 2016. Projects include

  • $57.5 million for State Parks and Trails Rehabilitation and Renewal
  • $31.2 million for State Parks and Trails Acquisition and Development
  • $11 million for Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails
  • $6.6 million for Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails

2017 Session Recap

Read our 2017 session recap for details about what passed and what didn’t.

2016 Legislative Agenda

  • Bonding bill to revitalize, update and expand parks and trails across Minnesota
    • $57.5 million for State Park and Trail rehabilitation
    • $27.7 million for State Park and Trail Acquisition and Development
    • $13 million for Metropolitan Regional Parks and Trails
    • $6.6 million for Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails
View Full 2016 Agenda

Cover of the Legislative agenda 2016

2015 Legislative Agenda

  • Restore and expand General Funds for Minnesota’s state parks and trails
  • Create a stunning park and trail legacy for future generations
  • Reinvest in Minnesota’s state park and trail’s aging infrastructure
  • Continue building Minnesota’s parks and trails through the Environment & Natural Resource Trust Fund
  • Strengthen policies that protect and enhance Minnesota’s parks and trails
View Full 2015 Agenda

2015 Legislative agenda cover

2014 Legislative Agenda

  • We support the DNR’s $77.1 million bonding request, plus an additional $10.95 million for the state trails initiative.
  • We support the Metropolitan Council’s full bonding request to support metro regional parks and trails
  • We urge the legislature to fund all, or part, of the LCCMR’s recommended parks and trails projects
  • We support the full DNR request for the state to purchase certain School Trust Fund land with an added provision to also purchase trail easements/leases
View Full 2014 Agenda

2013 Legislative Agenda

  • Restore base funding to operate State Parks and Trails
  • Make Legacy Funds truly transformative for our parks and trails
  • 13 trail projects still backlogged from 2010 vetoes; It is time to build
View Full 2013 Agenda

2013 Leg Agenda Cover