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Greetings from GMPT Chair Ben Anderson

Welcome Greater MN Parks and Trails (GMPT) members to 2022!

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Ben Anderson. I am the Stearns County Parks Director and I have been involved with GMPT since 2014 as a member, District 4 representative, vice chair, and I now look forward to serving as chair of this great organization. I also want to thank the immediate past chair Mike Nigbur for your leadership over the past few years. We look forward to your continued service on the board as your knowledge is irreplaceable. 

A little bit more about me. I grew up in northwestern Wisconsin (yes, I am a Packers fan, but I cheer for the Twins over the Brewers), and outdoor recreation has and will always be a big part of my life. My wife, twin 4-year-olds, and I live in St. Joseph. In our free time we enjoy hunting, fishing, exploring the great outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.

It is that time of year again when the legislature is gearing up for this year’s session and when we do our most important work as an organization. In October 2021, the GMPT Membership adopted our 2022 Legislative Policies and Legislative Agenda. The adopted 2022 Legislative Agenda contains the following action items:

  1. The GMPT supports a recommendation to use a general fund appropriation to pay for the operating costs of the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. (Please note, we are are not introducing legislation on this in 2022, but we are starting to lay the groundwork for the 2023 session.)
  2. The GMPT supports the passage of a Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources bill that includes funding for the Local Trail Connections, Outdoor Recreation, and Natural and Scenic Area grant programs and for selected local and regional park and trail projects.
  3. Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails (GMPT) supports a robust bonding bill that includes a bonding appropriation of at least $4,000,000 to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to fund the local and regional grant programs under Minn. Stat. 85.019 and additional funding for local and regional parks and trails. 

As members of the GMPT, I want to highly encourage each of you to reach out to your local representatives to discuss the importance of these initiatives. The GMPT 2022 Legislative Policies and Legislative Agenda pdf can be found here.

As we look forward into the year with new budgets, initiatives, policies, and legislative agendas, let’s keep in mind that GMPT members are all marching toward a common goal: “Working to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Minnesota by providing areas for recreational opportunities, and promoting legislative support, funding opportunities, and networking for parks and trails throughout Greater Minnesota.”

Thank you all for your hard work and continued support towards bettering our already outstanding GMPT systems. I look forward to working with all of you!