There have been similar meetings in Brainerd - public meetings on how to spend the windfall created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
But this time it's different.
Seventeen workshops are scheduled across the state in May and June, seeking input from residents on the future of Minnesota's parks and trails system. The Brainerd workshop is scheduled June 2 in the cafeteria at Central Lakes College, 501 West College Drive.
According to the DNR, meetings will provide residents with a chance to influence the Parks and Trails Legacy Plan that will guide funding decisions for regional and state parks and trails.
"They're a little more polished and a little more broad," Gary Drotts, DNR wildlife manager in Brainerd, said of the differences between the workshops and the general public meetings he helped oversee regarding Legacy Amendment funding last year in Brainerd. "They'll talk about local projects. It will be at the state level, so it will be broader. But it's the same concept - that you've got a funding source out there."
Minnesota voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008 that enacted a three-eighths percent sales tax increase for natural resources and the arts. Of that, 14.25 percent will provide funding for state, metro and greater Minnesota parks and trails projects.
The first workshop is scheduled Thursday in St. Cloud. Other workshops are scheduled in Baudette, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Forest Lake, Grand Rapids, Marshall, Minneapolis, North Mankato, St. Paul, Savage, Thief River Falls, Rochester and Willmar. All workshops run from 7-9 p.m.
According to the DNR, the plan will offer a vision, set priorities, and develop funding criteria for parks and trails. The plan also will identify gaps and needs in the current regional and state system and make recommendations to address them, the DNR said. It will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature by Feb. 15, 2011.
The workshops will focus on vision, priorities and future opportunities and will provide ample opportunity for discussion and questions, the DNR said.
"Everyone who attends will have an opportunity to provide their insights," said Courtland Nelson, DNR Parks and Trails Division director and chairman of the steering committee for the Minnesota Parks and Trails Legacy Plan.
For meeting details and more information about the Parks and Trails Legacy Plan, go to www.patl.intergov.mn.gov.
The DNR is partnering with the Citizens League, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization, on the workshops. Those unable to attend a workshop may provide input at the Citizens League website at www.citizing.org.
At the site, there is a link to "Introduce Yourself" and links for "What's Your Vision" and "Survey: Vision for Parks and Trails." Then, starting Aug. 1, you may "Rate Key Ideas from Survey and Discussion," followed Dec. 1 by "Final Revisions and Comment on Draft Plan." According to the website, the final plan will be unveiled March 1 on the site.
Erin Sapp, public participation project manager, wrote on the site that "The input we gather from Minnesotans will absolutely guide the plan. ... Minnesotans' feedback and information will serve as the basis for decisions for the DNR's work groups, who will be responsible for writing plan elements."
BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5864.
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