Council grants aim to address equity in regional parks

Date: Monday, December 16, 2019

The story of the region’s original people will be better told at three regional park facilities, thanks to grants the Met Council awarded in December.

People jogging next to a lake, with the Minneapolis skyline in the background.Dakota County will receive $90,000 for their work with four Native American tribes to assist with the implementation of the Minnesota River Greenway Cultural Resources Interpretive Plan. The plan includes creating interpretive installations along the Minnesota River Greenway Regional Trail focused on connecting visitors to the land and the heritage of the Dakota people.

Saint Paul will apply their $154,255 grant towards development of the Wakan Tipi Center at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. The multi-purpose center will help tell the story of the Dakota people.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will use its $55,745 grant for the Bde Maka Ska Cloud Man Memorial Interpretive Signage at Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park. Five panels will be placed at four locations around the lake to illustrate the history of Cloud Man, a Dakota chief, who founded the agricultural community Ḣeyate Otuŋwe on the shores of Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) in 1829. The new features will welcome visitors into the space to learn, contemplate, and celebrate people of diverse backgrounds.

Council’s new parks equity grants fund the improvements

The goal of the new grant program is to achieve more equitable use in the regional parks system. The 2040 Regional Parks Policy Plan committed us to create a competitive grant program for capital projects to advance equity in the parks.

An analysis of visitor studies shows that while record-setting numbers of visits are being made to regional parks and trails, racial disparities on regional trails exist, where visitors are not representative of the region’s population as a whole.

“We want all residents of the region to enjoy the amazing benefits of the regional parks system,” said Emmett Mullin, manager of the Council’s regional parks and natural resources unit. “We do not want race or ability to predict a person’s use of this world class system.”

The Council board approved a competitive grant program last summer and encouraged the 10 regional park agencies to apply. The grant program provides critical resources so that park agencies can promote more inclusive park use and follow through with the equitable usage goals of the regional development framework, Thrive MSP 2040.

What will success look like?

We will evaluate success using several approaches. We and our parks partners will:

  • Continue to measure park visits, with a focus on use by indigenous and other underserved communities.

  • Measure visitor satisfaction among all audiences through a project performance survey.

  • Review qualitatively the growth and success of the tribal partnerships involved in the project.

  • Continue communication with the tribes and other user groups.

Council partners with park agencies to acquire, develop regional parks and trails

We partner with 10 regional park agencies to support the region’s iconic system of 56 parks and park reserves, and nearly 340 miles of interconnected trails, and eight special recreation features. Under state law, we are required to oversee the acquisition and development of regional parks and trails. In 2018, the regional parks system had a record 59.5 million visits.

Posted In: Parks

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