Take advantage of parks, trails

State Sen. Chuck Wiger
District 43

Minnesotans have a great love for the outdoors. In the summer, anyone can drive around the neighborhood and see kids playing outside and families enjoying the beautiful weather. Walk past one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and you’ll see boats and jet skis cruising the lake and people of all ages grilling, relaxing and enjoying the beach. The warm summer months allow us to forget about the cold winter that is right around the corner.

Minnesota is home to 76 state parks and recreational areas. They range from the northern tip in Minnesota (Garden Island State Park) to the Iowa border (Lake Louise State Park) from Wisconsin to the Dakotas, and everywhere in between. They feature camping, hiking, canoeing, horseback riding and any number of other activities. They offer something for everybody.

However, it isn’t necessary to travel far to find access to beautiful parks and outdoor recreation. We have a number of options right in our own backyard. Here is a list of parks in our area:

Washington County Parks:

• Big Marine Park Reserve
• Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park
• Hardwood Creek Regional Park
• Lake Elmo Park Reserve
• Pine Point Regional Park
• Point Douglas Park
• Square Lake Park
• St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park

Ramsey County Parks:

• Beaver Lake Park
• Lake Gervais Park
• Island Lake Park
• Lake Josephine Park
• Lake McCarrons Park
• Lake Owasso Park
• Turtle Lake Park
• White Bear Lake Park
• Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Park
• Tamarack Nature Center
• Battle Creek Park
• Keller Park
• Long Lake Park
• Tony Schmidt Park
• Vadnais-Snail Lakes Park
• Vadnais-Sucker Lakes Park

We are blessed with incredibly beautiful surroundings. Our outdoor heritage is strong and it is important we continue that tradition and culture. I’m proud the 2013 Legislature made significant investments to preserve and enhance our beautiful parks and trails. We allocated $39.56 million for the operations of state parks and trails, which had seen budget cuts the last four years, leaving many of the parks and trails in disrepair. Advocates for the parks and trails believe we are still $5 million dollars short of what is needed, but it important we continue to act responsibly and deliberately when we spend taxpayer dollars.

Additionally, the Legacy Amendment appropriated $85.1 million from the Parks and Trails Fund to be used for improvements throughout the state. A number of the parks in Ramsey and Washington Counties will see money for various projects.

As you take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy our gorgeous parks and trails, please remember to be safe.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office. I can be reached at sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn or 651-296-6820.

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