Outstate parks and trails want a bigger piece of the Legacy Amendment pie

Legislators are facing a fight over who should get money for parks and trails.

Funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment brings in about $40 million a year for parks and trails. In the first biennium after the new sales tax was established, the money was divided -- 42 percent for state parks, 42 percent for metro area parks and 15 percent for a grant fund, most of which went to greater Minnesota trails.

Now Rep. Dean Urdahl, chairman of the House Legacy division, said regional parks need more money to grow. He wants them to have 20 percent of the total.

"The people in greater Minnesota think they should have more, and the people in the metropolitan area think they should have more. Both have their good reasons, but I'm trying to strike a middle ground," said Grove, a Republican from Grove City. "And if no one's happy, maybe I'm doing my job."

Gov. Mark Dayton's budget calls for 16 percent for regional parks. But that's not enough for some regional park proponents.

"We're trying to get ahead of the curve on development, and establish parks and trails that are of statewide significance before the land disappears," said Chuck Wocken.

Wocken is the parks director in Stearns County and represents a new group, the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Coalition. He said counties and cities need more money to do that. Metro parks officials and the Department of Natural Resources would like to keep the allocation the same.

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