We stand on the shoulders of giants. Brett Feldman, Parks & Trails Council (P&TC) executive director, often talks of these “giants,” who founded P&TC over 60 years ago, and so many others throughout our state who have literally been trailblazers as they dedicated themselves to our ever-growing trails system.
I was thinking of this recently when I had the honor of attending Michael Bosanko’s funeral, a long-time teacher and environmentalist in Bloomington. He and his late wife Sally were much involved in civic and community affairs. He was a founding member and first chairperson for the Bloomington Natural Resources Commission. During his time there the Commission received the National Wildlife Federations’ Conservation Organization of the Year Award (1967). That in itself is a wonderful legacy. But, in addition, Mike was a member of the Metropolitan Parks and Open Spaces Commission for 17 years.
In the very week of Mike’s funeral, the Bloomington City Council unanimously approved the Minnesota River Valley Strategic Plan. This is a vital connection for fulfilling the dream going back to Gov. Floyd Olson in the 1930s to create a recreational area between Fort Snelling and the city of Shakopee. By the 1970s, pressure was building to develop the Minnesota River Valley floodplain for commercial and residential uses.
In the face of these challenges some of the “giants” worked with Congress to establish the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in 1976. Ed Crozier certainly was integral to this effort and became the first manager of the MVNWR. Mike was a board member and president of the Friends of Minnesota Valley (1982-1989). What has been a long-time dream is becoming a reality through the work of many dedicated people over the last 40 years.
Former U.S. Sen. Durenberger, placed these remarks in the July 26, 1994 Congressional Record: “The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is the largest urban wildlife refuge in the United States. The creation of this refuge was begun by my predecessor, former Vice President Mondale. I must also applaud Elaine Mellot and Mike Bosanko, with Friends of the Minnesota Valley—together, we were able to make this refuge a reality.”
And in the very week of Mike’s funeral, one of the final connections was made in Bloomington, 40 years after these giants began their efforts. Similar stories can and should be shared about dedication throughout our state. This includes many who have been committed members of P&TC. It should come as no surprise that Mike also served with P&TC in earlier years.
Thanks to all who help with these efforts. We stand on the shoulders of giants, but each of us can make steps toward a world-class system of parks and trails in Minnesota. That is the P&TC mission.