In less than two weeks, the Minnesota Legislature will reconvene, and although the second half of the biennium is shorter, it will likely be another busy session. Because it is not a budget year, the Legislature will be focused primarily on the bonding bill and policy issues. For GMPT, we have several priorities for 2024. We would like to see more funding for the DNR’s local park and trails grant programs and will be pushing for the inclusion of such funds in the bonding bill.
The GMPT has been instrumental in successfully advocating for additional state funding for parks and trails grant programs initiated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Applications are being accepted through March 31 for the latest round of funding for the following programs: outdoor recreation, natural and scenic area, regional trails, and local trail connections. We strongly encourage you to apply!
Eligibility requirements, deadlines, and other details can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov or at the following program links:
- Local Trails Connection Program – Grants ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 are available for local units of government for the acquisition or development of short trail connections between where people live and desirable locations. A 25 percent match is required. Priority is given to projects that provide significant connectivity.
- Regional Trail Grant Program – Grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 are available for the development of trails in Greater Minnesota of regional or statewide significance. Priority for trail project funding will be given to projects that develop trails of significant length. These grants do not require that the project be designated by the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. Designated trails are eligible, but Legacy grants may not serve as the match. A 25 percent cash match is required.
- Natural and Scenic Area Grants – Grants up to $500,000 are available to local governments for acquisition of natural and scenic land for development. The 2020-2024 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) provides guidance on priorities. A maximum of 50 percent of total project costs will be reimbursed.
Outdoor Recreation Grant Program – Grants of up to 50 percent of project costs (with a maximum award of $250,000) are available to local governments to increase and enhance outdoor recreation facilities in local and community parks. Acquisition and development or development projects are eligible including internal park trails, picnic shelters, playgrounds, athletic facilities, boat accesses, fishing piers, swimming beaches and campgrounds. The SCORP guidelines will establish priorities for this grant program.