With the goal of providing the next generation of Minnesotans with world-class parks and trails that connect everyone to the outdoors, a mandated 25-year strategic legacy plan was presented to the State Legislature today by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
The long-range plan outlines how funds generated from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Act (the “Legacy Amendment”) as well as other traditional funding sources should be spent for parks and trails of state and regional significance.
- ▪ The vision for the plan states that in 2035, Minnesota parks and trails will create experiences that inspire a legacy of stewardship for the natural world and provide fun outdoor recreational opportunities that strengthen friendships, families, health and spirit, now and into the future. Minnesotans will also experience the full range of benefits that outdoor recreation provides, reinforcing our state’s identity as an outdoor culture.
CREATING THE PLAN
The DNR, working with the Citizens League, used extensive public outreach efforts over an 18-month period to develop the plan. The efforts included a kick-off summit with recreation and conservation leaders, 17 listening workshops throughout Minnesota, outreach to more than 1,000 youth and young adults, extensive web-based input, targeted meetings with diverse racial and ethnic groups, and four final public review workshops, along with additional web-based review of the draft plan.
Seven DNR-led teams of recreation and conservation professionals used this public input and developed 10-year strategies.
Four areas, which are grounded in what DNR officials heard from the public, serve as the heart of the plan.
- ▪ Connect people and the outdoors - better develop Minnesota’s stewards of tomorrow through connection strategies that increase life-long participation in parks and trails.
- ▪ Acquire land, create opportunities - create new and expanded park and trail opportunities to satisfy current customers as well as to reach out to new ones.
- ▪ Take care of what we have - provide safe, high-quality park and trail experiences by regular re-investment in park and trail infrastructure.
- ▪ Coordinate among partners - enhance coordination across the large and complex network of public, private, and nonprofit partners that support Minnesota’s parks and trails to ensure seamless, enjoyable park and trail experiences for Minnesotans.
The plan also establishes guidelines for making future parks and trails legacy plan funding decisions, which include:
- ▪ Achieve big, tangible outcomes that make a long-term difference.
- ▪ Take a balanced approach to supporting a range of parks and trails needs - from acquisition, to development, to taking care of what we have, to restoration, to programming and marketing.
- ▪ Understand regional differences - the needs, priorities, resources and existing infrastructure vary greatly across Minnesota.
The DNR worked with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Changing Landscapes, which developed a parks and trails inventory and framework to support and inform this plan.
In 2008, Minnesotans passed the Clean Water Land and Legacy Act (the “Legacy Amendment”). It is funded by a 3/8 percent increase in the state sales tax. State and regional parks and trails receive 14.25 percent of the funds generated from the Legacy Amendment.