First update in more than a decade reflects rich cultural heritage of region
Regional park maps are now available to the public, marking the first update to the maps in more than a decade.
Regional park maps are available free of charge and show park locations and activities. A colorful array of photos celebrates the diversity of people who visit the parks and trails system and features regional parks in all the glory of our four seasons.
“It’s really so much more than a map,” said Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “It’s an invitation to visit and get to know all that we have to offer here, thanks to great visionaries, regional collaboration, and good planning.
“The photos are a reminder of why we live here, the quality of life we enjoy and our connection to the region’s attractions and outdoors,” Tchourumoff said.
Woven into the patchwork of photos are short phrases in a variety of languages that welcome visitors from around the world. Words and phrases for “family,” “fun,” “celebrate,” “relax” and more are printed in Spanish, Somali, Hmong, Arabic and English.
The folding map and guide helps people locate regional parks and shows what activities are available in each one, using icons that are understood in any language.
“The vast network of regional parks and trails are nationally renowned for their beauty, size, and variety of features,” said Emmett Mullin, manager of the Council’s Regional Parks & Natural Resources unit.
“We want to make sure all our residents can see and experience the regional parks for the fun, inviting and compelling places they are--for solitary activities or large gathering spaces. There’s something for everyone,” Mullin said.
Map helps reach people who haven’t yet visited the parks
The updated map is an outgrowth of the Council’s research that showed some communities of color and immigrants do not use the parks in proportion to their share of the region’s overall population. The Council embarked on an extensive community engagement effort to identify barriers to participation and is working with communities and park agencies to overcome these.
One result is that the Council now has a new Parks Ambassador Program and has hired an outreach coordinator, Celina Martina. She is dedicated to reaching people who don’t currently visits parks and inviting them to learn more about our Regional Parks System. Martina uses the map as a tool in her work as people discover their regional parks and trails. She also has an accompanying “welcoming” piece that is written in four different languages, to increase people’s awareness of the great opportunities in the regional parks
More annual visits than the Mall of America
There are 54 regional parks and park reserves in the seven-county metro area, totaling 55,000 acres. There are 8 special recreation areas, including, for example, the Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista. The regional system includes nearly 400 miles of regional trails and, in 2016, got nearly 48 million visits. That’s more annual visits than the Mall of America! The Regional parks include:
Lebanon Hills in Dakota County
Lake Minnetonka and Lake Minnewashta regional parks in the western suburbs
Lake Elmo Park Reserve in Washington County
Bunker Hills Regional Park in Anoka County
Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Minnehaha Regional Park and Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis
Como Regional Park, and the Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul
Parks maps are available at regional parks and libraries, some cities and counties, some schools and stores, and other public places. They can also be ordered by leaving a message on the Council’s Public Comment Line at 651.602.1500 or emailing the Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The regional parks system began with pioneering state legislation in 1974, which charged the Metropolitan Council with the responsibility to support the long-range planning, acquisition and development of the regional parks system, in partnership with the 10 park implementing agencies, which own and operate individual park and trail units.