A national advocacy group for recreational trails has honored Minnesota as the "Best Trails State" in the country.
The award is presented every two years by American Trails, a national nonprofit working on behalf of all trail types: bicycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, equestrian, snowmobile, off-highway vehicle, and water trails.
The award was announced Wednesday at the State Capitol by a recreation group led by Mark Holsten, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
"Active partnerships with all trail users and support groups are the cornerstone of this successful trails system," Holsten said in prepared remarks. "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 for his work amid budget restrictions.
• 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 U.S. Forest Service to help the two groups cooperate.
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 vehice trails.
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.
Founded in 1988 and based in Redding, Calif., American Trails has been working toward creating a national infrastructure of trails and greenways. Its members include parks departments, municipalities, contractors, recreation associations and others involved in the construction, maintenance and promotion of parks and trails.
More about American Trails can be found at www.americantrails.org.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482