Wednesday, the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota presented Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, with the Legislator of Distinction Award for her accomplishments on behalf of Minnesota's parks and trails.

With 60 years of experience, Parks & Trails Council has seen the role legislators play in ensuring the state's parks and trails are well cared for. This award acknowledges the leadership necessary to ensure Minnesota parks and trails remain treasured places that drive tourism, improve the health of our communities and protect the environment.

"Sen. Ruud has demonstrated courageous leadership in advocating for projects near and dear to Minnesota parks and trails users," Brett Feldman, Parks & Trails Council executive director, said in a news release.

Ruud continues to be a driving force behind Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. This year she is the lead author on two bills that aim to secure significant funding for the development of Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

In 2015 she helped ensure Minnesota State Parks and Trails would continue to serve as vital places by supporting the restoration of funding for operations and maintenance. In addition, in 2014, Ruud was the lead author on a bill that resulted in $2.4 million in funding for the extension of the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail.

Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota is a membership-supported nonprofit organization that has worked since 1954 to acquire, protect and enhance Minnesota's parks and trails.