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Workshops give citizens an opportunity to chart future of parks and trails

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outdoors Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

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.

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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.

Workshops are scheduled for the following communities: Baudette, Bemidji, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Forest Lake, Grand Rapids, Marshall, Minneapolis, North Mankato, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Savage, Thief River Falls, Rochester and Willmar.

Minnesotans passed for 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 regional and state system, and make recommendations to address them. It will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature by February 15, 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.

The workshops are scheduled from 7-9 p.m. and will focus on vision, priorities, and future opportunities. The meetings will provide ample opportunity for discussion and questions.

"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."

The University of Minnesota is developing an inventory of existing regional and state parks and trails. This information will be used at the workshops to help participants make recommendations for the future.

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