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GMPT online forums connect parks and trails professionals as we discuss issues and share ideas. Forums can also be viewed on the GMPT YouTube page.


Q&A with DNR Grant Coordinators – Feb. 29, 2024: Grant work can be tricky business, so it’s important to know your grant coordinators to help you through the process. The DNR has had a few shifts and changes with their grants department in the last few months, so we invited some of the staff to have a meet and greet with GMPT members!

The forum offered a chance to meet new grant coordinators, provided updates on DNR grants, and allowed time for Q&A for those who wanted a little insider help understanding the wide variety of available DNR grants.

Presentation Slides: MN DNR – Local Parks & Trails Grant Programs Overview


Navigating Park Commissions & Friends Groups – Dec. 6, 2023: It goes without saying that parks commissions and friends groups provide much-needed support for parks and trail systems. Whether it’s providing funding, trail maintenance, or other essential services, they are important assets in the development of and expanding access to parks and trails. This forum featured a discussion with parks and trails professionals about the role that these groups play in parks and trails.

Cannabis Challenges for Parks & Trails – Sept. 21, 2023: In this forum, GMPT brought in a few experts to talk about marijuana legalization, what it means for parks and trails, and their experience with the new law thus far. Kyle Hartnett, Assistant Research Manager at the League of Minnesota Cities, as well as a few city and county members who have already adopted policies on marijuana use, provided updates on the law’s details, answered questions, and discussed the issues everyone is facing.

Accessibility & Sensory Sensitivities – June 20, 2023: During this forum, local advocates participate in a discussion about increasing accessibility for those with sensory sensitivities and visual impairments. Guest speakers Michele Ensign and Mary Lee Turner explain some of the challenges are for individuals with sensory sensitivities and what changes can be made to help develop better planning practices for well-rounded accessibility.

Recommended Reading: The Power of Disability: Ten Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World – Al Etmanski


Archaeological Surveys & New Grant Opportunity Forum – May 16, 2023: This forum discusses a new GMRPTC grant opportunity designed to reduce cost barriers when conducting required environmental studies ahead of improvement projects. Professional archaeologist & lifelong preservationist Dr. Jeremy Nienow explains the when, where, how, & why of archaeological surveys as environmental studies.

Legislative Update – April 28, 2023: With so much work yet to be done, lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel explains the most recent legislative developments concerning parks and trails priorities as the Legislature prepares for the end of its session.

Legislative Update – Feb. 24, 2023: With the legislative session moving at a fast and furious pace, lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel discusses the most recent legislative developments involving many of GMPT’s policy priorities and offers insight on the path ahead.

Native Prairie Restoration – February 2023: Seasoned conservation practitioner Frances Gerde discusses why prairie habitat is a critical component of outdoor recreation areas; the space required to facilitate and how to establish a prairie habitat; and management considerations. Sherburne County Parks Coordinator Gina Hugo presented a case-study of a unique prairie restoration in a Sherburne County Park. For additional resources, see below:

Native Vegetation Guide (BWSR) https://bwsr.state.mn.us/node/8806

Organic Site Prep Methods (Xerces) https://www.xerces.org/publications/fact-sheets/organic-site-preparation-methods-comparative-overview

Native Plant Suppliers (DNR) https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/gardens/nativeplants/suppliers.html

Pollinator Friendly Parks (Xerces)https://xerces.org/publications/guidelines/pollinator-friendly-parks

MASWCD – SWCD Contactshttps://www.maswcd.org/SWCDs_On_The_Web/swcds_on_the_web.htm


Legislative Update – January 2023: GMPT lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel provides updates and valuable information on legislative activities and topics that members should keep an eye on as legislators return to work at the Capitol.

Connecting with Your Legislators – November 2022: With election season over, many districts are welcoming new legislators or city officials. During this forum, GMPT lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel discussed how to build and maintain valuable connections with your legislators, and the importance of developing a relationship that will help promote and support all Greater Minnesota parks and trails. Click here for the presentation materials.

Parks Planning Series: Project Pre-Work Requirements – August 2022: The third forum in our new Summer series, Parks Planning! Guest speakers from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Heritage Information System (NHIS) review team provided valuable insight on some of the pre-work tasks required before beginning many types of parks and trails projects.

Parks Planning Series: Public Engagement – July 2022: The second forum in our new Summer series, Parks Planning! Guest speakers HKGi Consulting and Gina Hugo from Sherburne County Parks offered insight on public engagement efforts, which are a major component of the planning process from projects to master plans.

Parks Planning Series: Master Planning – June 2022: The first of several monthly forums in our new Summer series, Parks Planning! Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC) System Plan Coordinator, Joe Czapiewski, provided valuable information on creating and updating your master plans.

RFP 101 – April 2022: Several GMPT business members collaborated on this forum to discuss RFP development.

E-bikes forum – January 2022

DNR grants – January 2022

Connecting teens to the outdoors – January 2022

Policies: Dedications, memorials, and special events – July 2021

Visitor counts – April 2021