The early warm weather means an early change to our outdoor activities. It is time to put away the winter gear and start the warm weather fun. Minnesota is full of opportunities to enjoy the wilderness and many of those opportunities are right out our back doors.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel.” Minnesotans are blessed with abundant local, regional and state parks. No matter where you live there are opportunities close by.
The Metropolitan Council website, www.metrocouncil.org/parks/r-pk-map.htm, is an excellent guide for parks in the Twin Cities area. Our regional parks system, which is the best in America, includes 51 parks and park reserves and seven special recreation areas. There are also 38 trails totaling 231 miles. Wherever you are in the Twin Cities, you can always find a park or a camp site to enjoy.
Helpful state park information is available at www.mnstateparks.info. The website provides details on permits, reservations, rules and firewood restrictions for the parks.
I suggest you also check out the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, www.parksandtrails.org. The council is a strong advocate for parks and trails and has raised significant funds to help acquire land. Excellent information and pictures about state parks are available on their website.
In addition to our state and regional parks and trails, our local communities provide many excellent places to enjoy nature. Visit the web site for your community, or call city hall, to find more information. I am grateful for the hard work of members of area parks and recreation commissions, volunteers and staff, and the leadership and support of city councils for providing these local opportunities.
Two of the big topics we are discussing this year in the Senate include outdoor improvements through the bonding bill and a discussion on how the state is going to use its Outdoor Heritage Funds. The fund was created by the legacy amendment and is voted on every year.
With the goal of restoring, protecting and enhancing Minnesota’s natural resources, this year’s legislation will appropriate nearly $100 million for wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat (fish, game and wildlife). Most of the legislation is based off of recommendations from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The council’s mission is to identify Minnesota’s top priorities while ensuring the bills we pass stick to the intent of the legacy amendment.
One section of the bill not included in the Council’s recommendation is the proposed one million dollars for the University of Minnesota (U of M). The funding will be used to pay for a portion of the proposed Aquatic Invasive Species Cooperative Research Center at the U of M. If approved, the research center will allow the U of M, Department of Natural Resources, Board of Water and Soil Resources and outdoor organizations to work together to find the best methods of fighting aquatic invasive species.
While enjoying our time outside today, it is important to plan for tomorrow. The outdoor heritage funding will help keep Minnesota’s natural resources clean and safe for generations to come.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.