National award recognizes Minnesota as ‘Best Trails State’
In the spotlight again as a leader in outdoor recreation, Minnesota has been named “Best Trails State” in the country. The award, presented to Minnesota by American Trails, recognizes a state which is facilitating an outstanding statewide system of trails.
The announcement comes on the heels of Minneapolis being named the #1 bicycling city in the U.S. (Bicycling Magazine, May 2010) and Minnesota being ranked the fourth most “bicycle friendly” state in the country (League of American Cyclists, May 2010).
Mark Holsten, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) – joined by representatives of the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, the Minnesota Recreational Trail Users Association, the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association, and the Metropolitan Council – unveiled the award today at the Minnesota State Capitol.
“Active partnerships with all trail users and support groups are the cornerstone of this successful trails system,” DNR Commissioner Holsten said. “The DNR would like to thank all of our partners – including all trail providers, trail advisory groups, and trail users – for supporting Minnesota trails.”
American Trails also recognized two Minnesotans with individual awards:
Ron Potter, recreation systems manager for the DNR, received a State Trail Advocacy Award. His support of the state’s trail systems in the face of budget cuts continues to ensure the availability and accessibility of trails for all users.
David Halsey, president of the Woodtick Wheelers ATV/OHM Club, received a State Trail Worker Award. He organized the club to reopen ATV areas in the Chippewa National Forest, and became a volunteer with the Forest Service to help the two groups understand each other’s needs.
Trails managed by the DNR include more than 600 miles of paved trails for biking, 1,000 miles of equestrian trails, 1,300 miles of cross-country skiing trails, 1,000 miles of off-highway vehicle trails, 4,400 miles of water trails, 1,000 miles of snowmobile trails, and several thousand miles of hiking trails. Trails managed through a grant-in-aid system by local units of government and local clubs include more than 21,000 miles of snowmobile trails, 700 miles of cross-country ski trails, and 1,300 miles of off-highway vehicle trails. Thousands of additional trail miles are provided by national, regional, county, and local units of government, as well as non-profit organizations, contributing to the award-winning system of trail opportunities throughout Minnesota.
“Minnesota’s extensive, scenic trails are a major draw for travelers and a significant asset to the tourism business in our state,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism.
“These trails make your heart beat faster,” added Chuck Laszewski, communications director for the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota. “These trails eliminate your stress levels. You cannot be on a horse in southwestern Minnesota and be grumpy. You cannot be bicycling the Gitchi-Gami trail, with Lake Superior over your shoulder, and not smile.”
A University of Minnesota economic impact study found that spending at Minnesota trails totaled more than $2.4 billion in 2008 and that some 30,900 full-time and part-time jobs were supported by trail spending. Walking and hiking are the most popular activities on Minnesota trails, followed by biking, running, inline skating, ATV riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding.
The Best Trails State award is presented every two years by American Trails, the only national nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail types, including bicycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, equestrian, snowmobile, off-highway vehicle, and water trails. More information about American Trails can be found online at AmericanTrails.org.
Take a virtual tour of four Minnesota state trails at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/virtual.html and several Minnesota snowmobile trails at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/virtual_tour.html.