prairie grass
June 1, 2015
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Regional parks: meaningful to state’s outdoor recreation

Mike TegederBy Mike Tegeder, president

Parks & Trails Council is very much identified with our great system of Minnesota State Parks. Indeed, a major undertaking in P&TC’s early years was the innovative effort to raise private funds to acquire land for a new state park, which we now know as Afton State Park. A reading of Roy Meyer’s “Everyone’s Country Estate: A History of Minnesota’s State Parks” testifies to our essential involvement with many of the great state parks we now enjoy.

But we have also had relationships with regional parks for some time and this is a growing involvement as this issue’s story on Anderson Park in Isanti County testifies.

Our 75 state parks are truly jewels that bedeck our state but the growing development of regional parks only enhances the presence of special places for a growing population. This is a great time for P&TC to work with various regional groups like the Friends of Anderson Park to provide more park and trail opportunities. These often are the first connection for people with parks. It was for me.

My own appreciation of the parks goes back to when I was about 10 years old. Living in north Minneapolis did not provide much in the way of outdoor adventure. But my parents signed me up for day camp at Baker Regional Park, then known as Lake Independence County Park. Once school ended we were bused out daily for a week where there was swimming, archery, crafts and even fishing from the shoreline. I did this for several years and I still have fond memories of the program. And then my brother and I with some friends began biking on county roads out to the park for day-long summer adventures. Luckily county roads were not too heavily traveled by cars then.

Regional and local parks are very accessible. They are often a bike or bus ride away. Working with local and regional groups P&TC support can make them even more available. There is especially an opportunity to connect these parks with regional bike trails. These are exciting days.