On Sept. 12, the Metropolitan Council awarded close to $1.7 million to Washington County and the Three Rivers Park District to buy land for regional parks and trails.
Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff calls the regional park system “more than a pretty face on the region’s landscape.” Tchourumoff says parks help create and shape livable communities and contribute to health and well-being.
“Regional parks, from Minneapolis Chain of Lakes to Lebanon Hills in Dakota County, are places where we come together as family, friends and neighbors to recreate and celebrate, or experience the quiet and tranquility of our treasured natural environment.
“Wherever your preference or whatever the occasion, the regional parks system offers a vast array of choices among the region’s network of regional parks and trails," Tchourumoff said.
The regional system includes 55 regional parks and park reserves, totaling more than 54,000 acres; nearly 400 miles of interconnected trails; and eight special recreation features, including Como Park Zoo, Gale Woods Farm, Noerenberg Gardens and Silverwood Park.
Purchase opportunities spur grant-making
The Council awarded the grants from its Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund. The fund comprises money from the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund, the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and Council bonds. The grants can contribute up to 75% of the total cost of an acquisition within the boundaries of the planned regional park system.
The new grants are for:
West Mississippi Regional Trail in the Three Rivers Park District. The grant of up to $325,839.68* is for purchase of the 7.3-acre Goodin parcel in the City of Dayton. When complete, the trail will run through the communities of Dayton, Champlin, Brooklyn Park, and Brooklyn Center.
Baker-Carver Regional Trail in the Three Rivers Park District. The grant of up to $474,355.50* to Three Rivers Park District is for purchase of the 55.94-acre Hodgson parcel in Minnetrista. When complete, the trail will be 17 miles long, traveling through Medina, Maple Plain, Independence, Minnetrista, Victoria and Laketown Township.
Grey Cloud Island Regional Park in Washington County. The grant of up to $435,083.63 to Washington County is for purchase of the two Kartarik parcels comprising 4.24 acres in Grey Cloud Island Township. The park is in the land-assembly phase and lies within the township and the City of Cottage Grove. The property is located along Mooers Lake, a water basin connected to the Mississippi River.
Big Marine Regional Park Reserve in Washington County. The grant of up to $451,924 to Washington County is for purchase of three parcels comprising the 8.33-acre Bofenkamp property in the City of Scandia. The property includes part of Pitzl Pond, next to Big Marine Lake, and features pine and hardwoods.
Great regional parks come from collaboration
Ten park implementing agencies that own and operate regional parks and trails request the funds. The agencies include Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties, the cities of Bloomington and Saint Paul, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Three Rivers Park District. The Council provides long-range parks system planning, investment and coordination.
Tchourumoff says partner agencies have been diligent about setting aside the region’s best natural areas for residents and creating a trail network that makes connections within the park system.
Metro area residents love their parks
The Council reports that regional parks and trails are popular with residents. The number of visits to regional parks and trails in the metro area reached an all-time high in 2017 of 58.3 million.
Most visits in 2017, 75.5%, were to regional parks, special recreation features and park reserves. The remaining visits went to the growing network of regional trails.
Summer is the most popular time to visit regional parks and trails. But Council officials say any time is a good time to take advantage of the opportunity for leisure, fun and exercise, and to enjoy wildlife and natural habitat.
The Council's Regional Parks Map and Guide helps to identify regional parks and park activities. A new website, Minnesota Great Outdoors, helps residents find amenities at state and regional parks and trails, including dog parks, ski and bike trails, swimming pools, fishing holes, campgrounds and more.
*Note: Funding for these two projects was provided by the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife and other natural resources. Currently, 40 percent of net Minnesota State Lottery proceeds are dedicated to growing the Trust Fund and ensuring future benefits for Minnesota’s environment and natural resources.
More about adding land and features to the Regional Parks system.