Annual GMPT meeting yields great turnout, discussion

The 2019 Greater Minnesota Parks & Trails annual meeting was held in Little Falls on Oct. 9 at the Initiative Foundation. We had a fantastic turnout with a large number of organization members, business members, and Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commissioners. We had a full room and a full agenda with updates, legislative policies and agendas, officer elections, presentations and business member highlights.

GMPT officers and board members at the 2020 annual meeting.

Membership update
GMPT membership continues to steadily rise in all categories from individuals to businesses, which is largely due to the work of those helping the membership committee with recruiting. As our organization continues to support the parks and trails members and make an impact at the legislative level, we can only hope to continue bringing in new members. An important take away from the membership update is to keep in mind that as our membership grows, our strength with legislators also grows — which is a great reminder to help us show that strength in numbers by attending the 2020 Legislative Action Day coming up the first part of next year.

2019 legislative successes
Our goals going into the 2019 legislative session were supporting funding for local trails and outdoor recreation programs, preserving the 40/40/20 split for the commission funding, and having no restrictions on park or trail construction. We were successful in these goals. The 40/40/20 split is still a hot topic and the original agreement on the split has expired. A new taskforce has been created to re-evaluate the split.

Preparing for 2020 by adopting legislative policies, agenda
Even though the 2020 legislative session does not start until February, an important first step in preparing for the session is adopting our legislative policies and agenda that guide our work at the Legislature. The positions, which were adopted by the membership at the meeting, did not change significantly from previous years. Our organization’s focus on ensuring that Greater Minnesota receives a fair share of the Legacy money, that the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission is funded, and that local parks and trails grants programs are funded will continue. You can read our policies and agenda here.

Election of officers
Annual elections were held to fill the officer positions, who will officially take office in January. The following is a list of the 2020 GMPT officers (with an * if they are new in the position):

  • *Chair: Mike Nigbur, District 6
  • *Vice Chair: Ben Anderson, District 4
  • District 1: Bob Manzoline
  • District 2: Vacant
  • District 3: Dan Coughlin
  • *District 4: Gina Hugo
  • District 5: Scott Wold
  • District 6: Karlin Ziegler

We would like to give special recognition to Gina Hugo, who was nominated for District 4. Gina recently became the Parks Coordinator for Sherburne County and has a long history in the Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWDC). She is a new member with GMPT and stepped right up to fill an officer position. We look forward to her input and expertise as we start another year.

Business member highlights
During the lunch break we had several short presentations from various business members to highlight ways their business can collaborate with parks and trails around the state. To see the business presentations, follow the links below:

Hot topics for parks & trails
Members also got to hear information on a couple hot topics with parks and trails thanks to our presenters. Darin Newman, DNR Parks and Trails Division Principle Planner, talked about trail usage, trends and data collection. His presentation can be found here­­­­­­. Kristy Zajac, Redwood SWCD, gave a presentation with deeply rooted passion on habitat restorations which can be viewed here. A huge thanks goes out to Darin and Kristy for their presentations!

Thank you!
Thank you to everyone who attended the annual meeting. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with your district representatives throughout the upcoming year as we look forward to great things for GMPT in 2020!