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State park workships to be held in Minnesota

Minnesotans have an opportunity to help chart the course of regional and state parks and trails for the next 25 years by participating in one of 17 workshops to be held around the state in May and June.

The meetings will provide citizens with a chance to influence the Parks and Trails Legacy Plan that will guide funding decisions for regional and state parks and trails.

Among the meeting sites are the Hobson Union on the Bemidji State University campus (May 13), the Detroit Lakes Community and Technical College (May 18), the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids (May 27) and Lake of the Woods School in Baudette (May 11).

Each session will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The workshops will focus on vision, priorities, and future opportunities. The meetings will provide ample opportunity for discussion and questions.

Minnesota voters passed the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment in 2008 that enacted a three-eighths percent sales tax increase for natural resources and the arts. Of the money collected, 14.25 percent is providing funding for state, metro, and Greater Minnesota parks and trails projects.

The plan will offer a vision, set priorities, and develop funding criteria. The plan will also identify gaps and needs in the current system and make recommendations to address them. It will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature by February 2011.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is partnering with the Citizens League, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, in the workshop planning effort. People from all walks of life are encouraged to participate in the workshops, especially those who currently don't use the regional or state parks and trails system.

"Everyone who attends will have an opportunity to provide their insights," said Courtland Nelson, DNR Parks and Trails Division director. "Now is the time for Minnesotans to share their ideas and dreams for parks and trails for the next 25 years."