Future of DNR Parks and Trails

With an eye toward preserving and enhancing Minnesota parks and trails in the next budget cycle and beyond, Becky Lourey has accepted an invitation to co-chair a key Department of Natural Resources advisory panel. The 15-member Parks and Trails for the Future Advisory Committee is charged with making difficult recommendations for the 2013-15 state budget cycle in the likely face of a continued decline in general fund revenues.

As a former DFL senator, Lourey shared a favorable reputation with former Republican House member Dennis Ozment, as bipartisan lawmakers willing to reach compromise while holding firm to their strong environmental conservation principles. Now they are working together again as co-chairs of the advisory committee. The working group is exploring new ways to provide adequate funding to the parks and trails system as the trend toward fewer general state fund dollars appears certain to continue.

In confirming Lourey’s committee appointment, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr stated, “Because of your experience and knowledge of Minnesota’s state parks and trails, your participation will be an asset to our effort to create a shared vision for the future.”

With an accelerated schedule of meetings throughout the summer and fall, the committee is expected to issue its recommendations before year end 2012. Commissioner Landwehr has made clear in his charge to co-chairs Lourey and Ozment that real changes are expected to come out of the committee’s recommendations.

“Our current fiscal challenges are really an opportunity to redefine and create a new park and trail system that will continue to connect people to the outdoors, provide recreational opportunities and support our state’s tourism economy,” Landwehr said.