Creative financing for regional trails


As responsible stewards of our taxpayer’s money, Three Rivers uses a wide variety of creative financing techniques to acquire and preserve land – especially for future trails. With increasing development and financial pressures, we must continue to explore new approaches to preserve our natural resources for future generations and acquire land to meet escalating demands for our highly popular regional trails. Keep reading to learn more!

Although Three Rivers owns most of the 27,000 acres in our parks, we also rely on donations, leases, easements and limited use permits to acquire property when consistent with our mission and long-range plans. We often draw on our strong partnerships with local and regional agencies to identify acquisition opportunities with willing sellers when they arise.

In recent years, we have tapped into such creative tools as conservation easements, which allow us to protect natural areas without the higher costs of outright acquisition. Development incentives involve land exchanges in which private owners retain the same economic value, while we acquire the public land – truly a win-win arrangement. We’re using these strategies for the future Rush Creek Regional Trail that will link Elm Creek Park with Crow-Hassan Park Reserve.

To acquire a portion of the planned north-south regional trail linking our Lake Minnetonka LRT Trail south of Carver Park to our Dakota Rail Regional Trail, we negotiated a unique temporary encroachment permit with a developer, and it did not involve the use of any public funds. Other legs of that needed trail will involve a potential three-party agreement and a subdivision land exchange.

Three Rivers is leading the way in this brave new world of public finance!

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John Gunyou
Three Rivers Parks Board Chair