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RECAP: GMPT Annual Meeting 2023

As an organization, our most vital asset is our membership. It was an exciting day on October 4 when we were all able to get together to discuss news and updates in Greater Minnesota parks and trails. We had 39 registered attendees, including those who attended virtually. This event was the largest gathering of members since the pandemic, so thank you to everyone who came out! We would also like to thank Olmsted County for hosting our group and giving us a tour of the new Nature Center and Zollman Zoo at Oxbow Regional Park.

The event began with an organization update and overview of the past year’s activities, with GMPT Lobbyist Elizabeth Wefel recapping the 2023 legislative session—one of our most successful to date. Heading into the session, our organization faced a new power structure in the DFL trifecta, in which the DFL controlled the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s office. This shift provided opportunities and challenges, seeing more legislators who favor funding for parks and trails, but with the majority being from the metro area.

After a busy and active year, GMPT saw great success, including the first new funding stream for regional parks and trails outside of legacy funding, increased funding for local parks and trails grants programs, and the defeat of an effort to restrict the use of eminent domain. You can read more about our legislative successes here.

The big highlight of the event was the opportunity to recognize Sen. Grant Hauschild’s (DFL-Hermantown) advocacy on behalf of GMPT through our Legislative Award, as GMPT’s successes would not have been possible without his efforts. As an organization, we only bestow this award when a legislator goes to great lengths to truly make a difference for the parks and trails of Greater Minnesota, with Sen. Hauschild being the second recipient ever to receive it.

Sen. Hauschild was unable to attend in person, so the award will be physically presented to him during the legislative session. Read more about his accomplishments in the press release here.

Later in the day, the group discussed upcoming changes within GMPT. Starting in January, Ben Anderson (Stearns County) will step down as GMPT Chair and will be succeeded by Gina Hugo (Sherburne County), while Joe Tart (Chisago County) will take over the Vice Chair role. Jon Jerabek (McLeod County) was elected to the board as the District 5 representative in a special election, and we welcomed Josh Baas from the City of Elk River to the board for District 4.

In addition to our new board members, existing board members Shannon Mortenson (District 2) and Karlin Ziegler (District 6) were elected for a new term. The membership also voted on and approved the Legislative Policies and Agenda for 2024.

Lastly, we would like to thank our business members for taking the time to speak to our members at the event and for their continued support for GMPT. We would also like to thank Andrew Korsberg from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Mike Samson from Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) for their presentation on e-bikes, and Renee Mattson for providing updates on the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC).

To view the meeting presentations, click the links below: