2050 Parks Policy Plan

As part of Imagine 2050, the regional development guide for the Twin Cities metro area, the Metropolitan Council is updating policy guidance for regional parks and trails. Regional parks and trails policies identify the kind of regional recreation open space facilities and services the region needs to acquire, develop, and operate in the future. The regional development guide is legislatively mandated to be updated every 10 years in accordance with the U.S. Census. The regional parks and trails plan must be updated every 4 years.

In the spring, we’ll be asking people to share their input on an early draft of the regional parks and trails policy.

A group of people talking and laughing at three picnic tables that are pushed together.Met Council’s role

The Met Council is charged with overseeing the long-range planning, acquisition, development, outreach, and research for regional parks and trails across the metropolitan area. We work with the state legislature and our 10 regional park implementing agencies to help fund the system, which is owned and operated by our agency partners. We play a leadership role in the development of the regional parks and trails plan, which we hold in common with the agencies. This strategic document provides the policy framework under which we all operate.

Graphic of the regional planning cycle. Steps include census results, system plans, and implementation. The planning cycle

Every regional planning cycle begins with information from the decennial U.S. Census. The census shows us how our population has changed over the last decade. This allows us to forecast population growth into the future. With that information, Met Council staff engage with park professionals, park-focused nonprofit organizations, and residents to hear about regional park values and concerns. The Met Council proposes policies to take care of regional park and trail units, address park and natural resource issues, gather input, and adopt policies that advance efforts to strengthen equitable use of regional parks and trails and sustain them for future generations.

Timeline and milestones

Four stages of the timeline: initiation, planning, execution, close. Concurrent with the Regional Development Guide process.


Park and trail research largely informs our engagement strategy. It provides helpful insights as to who is and isn’t visiting our regional parks and trails and offers recommendations around how the Met Council and implementing agencies can foster more inclusive park experiences and our overall journey towards a more equitable system where everyone feels welcome.

Regional Parks and Trails System Visitor Study

Regional Parks and Trails System Visitor Study

The visitor study measures satisfaction across demographics, age, and gender with the regional park and trail system. Among other goals, this information is used to strengthen equitable usage of regional parks and trails and inform the regional parks and trails plan.

Youth & Parks: Getting Outdoors Close to Home

Youth & Parks: Getting Outdoors Close to Home

We gathered youth and parks research to better understand and serve underrepresented populations. This one-of-a-kind study informs policy about the needs, motivations, and barriers that youth face when accessing the regional park and trail system. Intentionally inclusive involvement, particularly from young people, is needed for maintaining broad-based public support for park and trail investments.

Annual Use Estimates

Annual Use Estimates

Annual use estimates allow us to monitor trends over time and calculate each agency’s share of Met Council awarded grant program dollars.

Three people writing at a round table.Engagement

Engagement around the Parks Policy Plan centers community through inclusive experiences that build connection while creating access points to the regional parks and trails system. Each update to the regional parks and trails plan is an opportunity to deepen and broaden our engagement and to create more mutually beneficial relationships, built on trust, that foster continuous two-way communication around our collective future as a region. Authentic engagement only works when everyone involved brings something meaningful to the table. These opportunities for involvement build off of the engagement Met Council and regional park implementing agency staff conduct continuously, year-round.

Comprehensive regional planning

The regional parks and trails plan is one of four systems that the Met Council plans for as a part of the regional planning process. We also plan for our wastewater treatment system and the transportation system, which includes airport system information. We also create policies for land use, water resources, and housing.

Contact us

Comment on our regional parks and trails plan and processes
[email protected]
Colin Kelly
[email protected]
Tracey Kinney
[email protected]