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GMRPTC Update: Three new designation eligible facilities

Below is a message from GMRPTC Executive Director Renee Mattson. You can reach her at

At the March 27 Commission meeting, three designation applications were reviewed and approved by Commission action.

Following site visits by consultants and a thorough review and discussion by the Evaluation Team, Commissioners approved High ranks for the following applicants.

Cannon River Wilderness Area – located along the Cannon River in Rice County, near Northfield to the southwest and Faribault to the northeast. The regional significance statement in their application describes the area:

“The Cannon River Wilderness Area preserves 840 acres of picturesque riverine corridor and Big Woods forest land along a three-mile stretch of the winding Cannon River. Rolling topography leading down to the river provides the setting for a variety of recreational facilities: hiking trails, equestrian trails, camping, and paddling. Two parking areas on either side of the river provide access to five miles of trails, a picnic area and shelter, and four primitive campsites.”

Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center – just a few miles from Spicer and near Sibley State Park, Green Lake, and Robbins Island Regional Park in Willmar. The regional significance statement describes the learning center in this way: 

“Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, spanning 560 acres in northern Kandiyohi County, is a longstanding premier destination for outdoor activities. With diverse land features, including rolling glacial terrain, native prairie, woods, wetlands, and undeveloped shoreline, the center has been a pivotal park and trail hub for over 30 years. It boasts eleven miles of natural surface multi-use trails and various amenities, inviting people to engage in hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, kicksledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country sledding.”

Owatonna Regional Park – runs along the banks of the Straight River and Lake Kohlmier in Owatonna. The regional significance statement notes this description: 

“This park is the historic cornerstone of the Owatonna Park system. Wildly popular, it provides a broad and diverse set of active and passive recreational opportunities and assets. The Straight River, Lake Kohlmier, and vast wooded areas exemplify its beauty. Experience picturesque views from the water or miles of trails all year long. Connect with nature, wildlife, and other visitors, or even hop on the adjoining trails to explore the community.”

A High rank means the next step in achieving designation is to submit a qualified master plan for consultant review and scoring by the ETeam, followed by approval of the Commissioners. We look forward to receiving the master plans for these three great facilities!