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Advocacy Resources

Friends groups play an important role in providing a community of voices that joins together to support a park or trail. There are a number of ways friends groups can advocate for their special place.

Ways to Advocate

Work with your leadership team and membership to decide upon advocacy actions that make most sense for your group. While the legislative season in spring may the the busiest time of the year, try to keep engaged in advocacy activities year-round.

Support P&TC’s Legislative Agenda

Each year, Parks & Trails Council identifies priorities to advocate for at the capitol—including grassroots initiatives, management needs, and smart policy. Contact friends@parksandtrails.org to learn how your group can sign a resolution in support of P&TC’s legislative agenda.

Also, when the application is open, let P&TC know if there is a specific project for which your friends group is seeking funding or support. Upon evaluation, P&TC may be able to work with you to garner support.

Reviewing P&TC legislative agenda
Looking at P&TC legislative agenda
Legislative Agenda

Connect with your Legislators

One great way to build awareness of your group and keep your projects moving forward is to gather support from your elected officials. While the tips below are geared toward state legislators, they can be adapted for mayors, city council members, and other elected officials.

Rep. Hausman talks with our group
Rep. Hausman talks with our group

General Tips & Best Practices

  • Research your legislator before connecting.
    • Use this online tool to find your legislator’s website.
    • Consider biographical information, committee assignments, and key issues of concern.
    • Find out if your legislator has given past support to parks and trails, so you can thank them.
  • Address your legislator appropriately and with respect (e.g. Senator [Last Name] or Representative [Last Name]).
  • Resist attempts at humor.
  • Always send a followup note after an interaction to thank them, address their questions, and offer future help.

Methods to Connect

Personal Meetings

Group wearing Friends of Mill Towns shirts with Rep. Bly

Friends of Mill Towns Trail meet with Rep. Bly (DFL, Northfield)

A good way to build a relationship with your legislator is to personally meet with them. While scheduling a formal appointment to meet in their office at the capitol is a good idea, it is even better to meet them when they are home in the district—your opportunity for meaningful discussion is much better when they’re not busy with the legislative session. Many legislators host open houses in their home districts, so take advantage of that opportunity to connect.

  • Be concise—use 10 words or less to introduce your topic.
  • Name the issue or concern and offer suggested action.
  • Know what you want from the legislator and ask them to do that (e.g. vote no on this bill).
  • Provide a fact sheet, visuals, and/or bullet points.

Phone Calls

You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to care. By calling your legislator, you can quickly weigh in on current legislation and ensure your voice is heard.

  • Ensure you’re prepared with information about the issue, the impact you’d like to share, and what action you’d like the legislator to take.
  • Calls are most effective during the height of the legislative session before an important committee or floor vote.
  • Sometimes you will speak with a legislative assistant, not the actual legislator, who is tallying responses from constituents. Five calls is an avalanche.
  • You may or may not get a response directly from your legislator.

Letters

Well written letters are invaluable and quick. To be most effective letters should be brief (only one typed page). Include your name, postal address, and phone number.

  • Keep to one topic.
  • Everything you say should support your point.
  • Outline your concerns and suggested action.
  • Explain to them why they should care and how it will impact their district.
  • Offer to be of further assistance and to provide more information it they need it.

Emails

As the digital version of letters, all rules and suggestions for letters apply. Keep the email short, less than 400 words, and make sure you clearly outline the issue and what impacts you may experience from certain decisions.

Site Visits

Cutting the ribbon on the new campground for Lake Vermilion State Park

Cutting the ribbon on the new campground for Lake Vermilion State Park

When your legislator is at home in your district, invite them to come tour the park or trail you support. If there is a special event or activity, be sure they receive an invitation to join.

Find more tips from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.

Share the Benefits of Parks and Trails

It is well known that the existence of parks and trails provides a plethora of benefits for us all. By sharing facts and statistics about the health, quality of life, environmental, and tourism benefits, you can strengthen support for your project. P&TC has developed a number of fact sheets describing these benefits.

Discover the Benefits
Our members look out over the land we helped add to Anderson park

Follow Advocacy News

Click on the posts below to learn about recent advocacy updates.

March 10, 2021

House Legislative committee hears our case for state trail rehab

On Tuesday, our staff presented at the House Capital Investment Committee to share our State of the Trails report.
Parks & Trails Council's Research Bike
October 29, 2020

Portion of Lake Vermilion State Park opens to OHVs

All-terrain vehicle (ATV) advocates have been pushing to open up state parks to ATVs for years, and in 2020 their focus was ...
Entrance sign to park
October 29, 2020

Bonding bill passes, key parks and trails projects funded

Minnesota's Legislative Session was unprecedented, which is to say, it fit perfectly into the year 2020. For most of the ...
Minnesota State Capitol
July 28, 2020

Stalled bonding bills leaves key projects unlikely this year

The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up their second special session on July 21 without passing a much anticipated public ...
icon of person digging
May 21, 2020

Legislature adjourns with much at stake in Special Session

When the Legislature adjourned on May 18, it did so without passing either a Bonding bill or a LCCMR bill – two of the most ...
image of a report cover

Follow Key Legislative Committees

The Minnesota Legislature accomplishes much of its work via committees. The structure and makeup of these committees can change with each new session of the legislature. Here are the committees most relevant to parks and trails in 2021:

House of Representatives

Capital Investment Committee — This committee oversees legislation for the bonding bill, which funds capital improvement such as new buildings, trails, and other infrastructure needs.  Committee homepage  |  Bills referred to committee

Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy — This committee oversees legislation related to policy and funding issues.  Committee homepage  |  Bills referred to committee

Legacy Finance — This committee oversees legislation related to appropriating funds from the Legacy Fund.  Committee homepage  |  Bills referred to committee

Senate

Capital Investment Committee — This committee oversees legislation for the bonding bill, which funds capital improvement such as new buildings, trails, and other infrastructure needs.  Committee homepage  |  Bills referred to committee

Environment and Natural Resources Finance — This committee oversees legislation related to funding.  Committee homepage  |  Bills referred to committee

Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee — This committee oversees legislation related to policy issues and the funding of Legacy Funds.  Committee homepage  |  Bills referred to committee

Explore More with P&TC

Parks & Trails Council has a whole section of their website dedicated to statewide advocacy for parks and trails. It includes a summary of issues, a bill tracker, research and reports, and other legislative resources.

Find More Advocacy Resources
Man presenting powerpoint
Andrew Oftedal presenting P&TC's legislative agenda