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Funds pledged to realize master plan for Cuyuna mountain bike trails

In a letter and in testimony before a House committee, Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails, publicly stated the Department of Natural Resources would use $600,000 of their appropriation to develop and expand the mountain bi...

In a letter and in testimony before a House committee, Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails, publicly stated the Department of Natural Resources would use $600,000 of their appropriation to develop and expand the mountain bike trail system within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (CCSRA).

This would fund the first phase of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew's master vision for the CCSRA. Members of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) received the news when the Minnesota House of Representatives Legacy Funding Finance Committee released its Legacy Omnibus bill this week.

"This is an exciting opportunity for mountain biking trails and to create a premier destination at Cuyuna," Rivers said in a news release. The DNR's $600,000 pledge is in addition to an already planned $200,000 summer project in the CCSRA this year. This will improve safety within the system, separate users of different levels, and allow the system to flow more smoothly.

"First, I would like to thank our elected officials: Rep. Dale Lueck (R-Aitkin), Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa), and Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point), for all of their efforts at the legislature to secure these funds" said Aaron Hautala, president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew. "Their support of our vision for our community was vital. Second, the overwhelming support of the communities and businesses in our region was phenomenal. That's the beauty of Cuyuna: it brings us all together, and through it we all succeed together."

"There are many steps left in the Legislative process," said Judy Erickson, government relations consultant to the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew. "But DNR has made their commitment to funding Cuyuna out of their Park and Trail Legacy Funds and there is strong support within the Legislature for the DNR Park and Trail Legacy portion."

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The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the sales tax revenue resulting from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment. Those funds may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources receives a portion of the Parks and Trails fund for projects throughout the state park and trail system. For the next two years, the DNR's total is $35.304 million.

House action was the first step in final Legacy decision-making process at the Legislature. The Senate is expected to begin work on their bill in the next week. The House and Senate will each pass their versions of the bill, followed by a House-Senate Conference Committee and final action in May. Funds would become available July 1.

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