ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

It's official: Funding to help mountain bike trail expansion

ST. PAUL - With the passage of the Legacy Omnibus bill during Friday's Legislative Special Session, Cuyuna's mountain bike system is poised for expansion.

Passage of Parks and Trails Legacy funds during the legislative special session will flow $600,000 to the mountain bike trail system in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Photo/ Aaron Hautala
Passage of Parks and Trails Legacy funds during the legislative special session will flow $600,000 to the mountain bike trail system in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. Photo/ Aaron Hautala

ST. PAUL - With the passage of the Legacy Omnibus bill during Friday's Legislative Special Session, Cuyuna's mountain bike system is poised for expansion.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill into law Saturday.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will receive about $35 million from the

Parks and Trails Legacy fund. This money funds various projects throughout Minnesota's state parks and trails system. Included in the DNR's plan is $600,000 for the mountain bike trail system within the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. This will fund phase one of the Minnesota DNR and Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew's master vision for trails. Phase one includes making the entire system one-way, thus improving safety, and developing a true beginner trail.

"This is a very exciting step in the master vision for trails," said Aaron Hautala, president of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew, a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, in a news release. "I want to thank Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa), for coming up with the idea to consider Legacy funding for Cuyuna. Without him, these dollars would not be here. Thanks also to Rep. Dale Lueck (R-Aitkin) for defending and advocating on behalf of Cuyuna, and to Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) for her advocacy and belief in the possibilities of Cuyuna and the positive impact it has on our region. I would also like to thank DNR State Parks and Trails Director Erika Rivers for her recognition of the importance of Cuyuna and her willingness to work with us to come up with funding solutions."

ADVERTISEMENT

"This legacy money is an important piece of the puzzle for Cuyuna, and sets the table for our efforts next year when we focus on getting the mountain bike trails included in the 2016 bonding bill," said Judy Erickson, government relations representative for the International Mountain Bicycling Association. "From now until then, we will all need to work together to position Cuyuna for the future."

Another legislative piece is an increase in DNR Parks and Trails operating budget, which is housed in the Environment and Agriculture Omnibus Budget bill. With an increase of $4.25 million each year, this will allow the recreation area to continue to have operating support, Hautala reported.

"Finally, we would like to thank all of the volunteers, businesses, organizations, and individuals who advocated for Cuyuna this legislative session," Hautala said. "The time spent in hearings, writing letters of support, and lending voices to our cause truly made all the difference, and was time well spent. It is a wonderful example of how a region works across party, city, county, and chamber lines to make incredible things happen. We're all in this together, and we will all win together."

The Parks and Trails Legacy fund is one portion of the Legacy bill, which also includes funding for arts and culture, outdoor heritage, and clean water. All are the result of the Legacy Amendment, which voters passed in 2008. The amendment raises the sales tax in Minnesota by three-eighths of one percent and dedicates it towards Legacy activities.

As one of the first purpose-designed and built trails for mountain biking in the region, Cuyuna has changed the paradigm for bicyclists in the Midwest, Hautala reported, adding it is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best places in the nation to experience mountain biking.

What To Read Next
Inmates in-custody in the Todd County jail in Long Prairie, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Wadena County jail in Wadena, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Aitkin County jail in Aitkin, Minnesota
Inmates in-custody in the Beltrami County jail in Bemidji, Minnesota