Thank You!

As a newly re-elected Three Rivers Park Commissioner, I want to thank you all for your continuing trust and support in my DrhcX9SUUAAR-KZ.jpgleadership. I am especially grateful for another opportunity to live my values every day.

In these politically divisive times, I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to set an example of how government should work for the benefit of all those we serve. Our ongoing commitment to collaborative partnerships, long-term stewardship and fiscally responsible management will insure excellent service for the 12+ million visitors who enjoy our regional parks and trails every year - in particular, bringing more of Three Rivers’ exceptional recreation and environmental education programs into communities that have traditionally had less access to our great facilities and services.


As a public official, I have long been committed to regularly communicate with those who elected me to serve. In fact, we have been making significant improvements in our outreach activities at Three Rivers, so beginning with this update, I'll be providing direct links to more timely and useful information about our many activities at Three Rivers.

Thanks again, my friends. I am deeply grateful for the many opportunities I have had to serve our community over the years, and sincerely appreciate the chance to continue my lifelong commitment to public service.



Highlights for Nov 2018

Beginning with this update, I'll be providing links to highlights of recent Three Rivers activities, drawn from our new blog, news media coverage, and social media postings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Check out the links!

Three Rivers Blog

Discover the how and why of species reintroduction in this Three Rivers blog post.

News Media Roundup

The WCCO Morning show did two live shots from French Regional Park to preview our skijoring clinic.

The Star Tribune highlighted a new book, Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities, written by Three Rivers Senior Manager of Wildlife John Moriarty.

CCX Media’s Backyard Getaway segment on fall color featured Fish Lake Regional Park, and CCX also previewed the Autumn Woods Classic (scroll to the 15:40 mark).

The new French Play Area was featured in this magazine published by Landscape Structures highlighting their recent showcase projects from around the world.

Social Media Roundup


ReminderGive to the Max Day is coming up on Thursday.

Gale Woods Farm Supervisor Tim Reese and Mardi the Llama put together a fun video about the upcoming Climate Conversation taking place at Gale Woods.

Lowry Nature Center staff posted a video showing how to paint a November sunset. The nature center is hosting a “Paint and Graze” program on Nov. 18.

The start of the Autumn Woods Classic 10K race on Oct. 13 is posted here. The Park District’s Facebook page also includes this brief fall color flyover video.

A participant in the Autumn Woods Classic posted on her Facebook page about how three generations of her family participated in Autumn Woods, which has become a fall tradition for them. More Autumn Woods Classic participants are shown here.


Three Rivers’ Instagram features an autumn photo and an invitation to check out a recent Three Rivers Blog post on ways to beat the seasonal blues.

A park guest posted a photo and described how a stand of white pines at Cleary Lake Regional Park is meaningful for her.

Another park visitor shared a photo of an autumn ride on the horse trails at Crow-Hassan Park Reserve.

Here’s a fun video of pumpkin carving. An Instagram user posted a picturesque photo of Glen Lake Golf and Practice Center, and another user posted a beautiful fall landscape photo at Hyland Lake Park Reserve.


WCCO promoted the upcoming skijoring clinic at French Regional Park on its Twitter feed.

CCX Media reported that the dog park at Sochacki Park is nearly complete.

“Future naturalist?” Reporter Shannon Slatton from CCX Media tagged Three Rivers in a Twitter post — her daughter wanted to be a barred owl for Halloween.

One user posted photos of their family’s “perfect day” at Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve, while Excell Academy posted a photo of fifth graders’ Nature Fest field trip to Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park becoming Mississippi Gateway Regional Park.




Scott County partnership

scott.jpgA host of officials recently celebrated another product of the Scott County partnership that resulted in a new trail segment at Spring Lake Regional Park and infrastructure for water quality improvements at nearby Arctic Lake in the city of Prior Lake. The project completed a trail loop, added a neighborhood trail connection and installed an iron-enhanced sand filter to remove algae-causing phosphorus before it can enter the lake. Our many partners included Scott County, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the Prior Lake/Spring Lake Watershed District, and the City of Prior Lake.

We also celebrated improvements at Cleary Lake Regional Park, which Three Rivers jointly manages with Scott County. We cooperate on projects like this, because it makes a lot of sense. We opened this park 30 years ago, and as you can imagine, our facilities were showing their age. By working together, we were able to share our staff expertise and funding to benefit the park users and taxpayers we both serve. In fact, we coordinate our planning, programs, maintenance and public safety services at parks and on trails throughout Scott County, including Murphy-Hanrehan, Spring Lake and Cedar Lake Farm. This partnership is a great example of how government is supposed to work!


Three Rivers website wins top award!

Please check out our newly redesigned Three Rivers website to see why it won the top award from the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators. The Northern Lights Award is "granted to the one entry that stands out from all others as representing the very best in government communications." Three Rivers was honored for our website "whose quality has wowed the judges – exceeding expectations, accomplishing intended goals, demonstrating creativity and making excellent use of available resources.”


Richfield Community Outreach

field_kids.pngThree Rivers has been making a major effort to bring more of our exceptional recreation and environmental education programs into first tier communities. This is very important for children and seniors in communities like Richfield, Hopkins, Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center, who have traditionally had less access to our great facilities and services. Creative local partnerships have significantly improved access to our parks, trails and programs. As examples in the City of Richfield:

  • A Taft Park Expo was held in August, and included free recreational and naturalist activities, including our portable zip line (experienced by yours truly!), climbing wall, live animals, fishing, and games.  
  • Our Outdoor Recreation staff conducts fishing clinics at Taft Park each summer in one of the cleanest lakes in the metro area.    
  • A Paddle Share Station (self-serve kayak and Stand Up Paddle Board rentals) was recently installed at Taft Lake, along with a unique adaptive boat launch to open more opportunities for those with mobility challenges - like our wounded veterans who participate in water sports.  
  • Our Community Engagement staff have also provided programming to Lifeworks in the Richfield Community Center -- Lifeworks provides programming for adults with disabilities.  Our staff and Parks on the Go van also attend the Vehicle Day each June.      
  • Several Richfield schools have worked with Gale Woods Farm and Baker Near Wilderness Settlement for outdoor education programs.

We have also worked closely with nonprofit organizations and city staff to reach more people of color, especially those children and adults who might not have had access to Three Rivers programs in the past. As examples in the Richfield area:girl.png

  • We serve numerous Richfield residents through our Park Partners relationship with the Bloomington Schools Office of Educational Equity, since that is where many of the students and families live. That program includes ongoing programs and contacts from Richardson Nature Center with students and families in the school district that come from a variety of backgrounds, including Asian, African American, Latino, and Somali.   
  • Similarly, we also serve many Richfield residents through our work with the Dar Al Farooq Muslim Center – many of the kids and families active in Dar Al Farooq live in Richfield.  
  • Our Community Engagement staff regularly work with such cultural affinity groups as: Kwestrong (Native American Women), Outdoor Afro, and Outdoor Latino.  These groups not only serve Richfield, but also the entire metro area. Over the past year, we made a particular effort to expand our offerings to these groups to include winter activities. As a result, all of these groups attended our first ever Nordic Ski Opener, and the Kwestrong group started their own ski club.

Hopkins Community Outreach

field_kids.pngThree Rivers has significantly expanded our exceptional recreation and environmental education programs into first tier communities. This is very important for children and seniors in communities like Hopkins, Richfield, Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center, who have traditionally had less access to our great facilities and services. As Board Chair, I have championed creative local partnerships to significantly improve access to our parks, trails and programs. As examples in the City of Hopkins:

  • Lowry Nature Center in Carver Park works with Hopkins Community Education - specifically with their SMARTS program. The SMARTS program is a targeted learning program to provide additional instruction for students needing support in reading, writing and math with the objective of eliminating the achievement gap for students of color.  Lowry staff spends time in the school with SMARTS students throughout the year, and then host an open house event at the nature center with students and families. This fall, we begin the third year of this fabulous program.
  • Our Silverwood staff regularly provides outreach programs at the Hopkins library for teens, including art and nature education topics. We’re always looking for ways to reach this age group, and this has been a good initiative we hope to expand in other areas.
  • Senior Explorer Camps have been offered at the Hopkins Activity Center for the past three years, including three days of outdoor activities this past summer. Other communities are now being considered for similar programs.
  • We’ve been regulars at the Hopkins Raspberry Festival in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and again in 2018. 
  • Hopkins serves as a trail hub for the southwest metro area, so we were at the Hopkins Kick-Off/Bike to Work Day at out jointly run Hopkins Depot in 2017 and 2018, and we previously conducted regional trail pop-up engagements on Hopkins trails in 2014 and 2015.
  • We also brought our Parks on the Go van to the Hopkins/Minnetonka Summer Playgrounds Celebration in 2016, and participated in the Supervalu Health Fair in 2015 and 2017, and Cargill Earthday Showcase in spring 2017.



Environmental School Partnerships


Three Rivers has been expanding our outreach with schools to help bring natural resources education opportunities to more of our next generations. As just one example, Scenic Heights Elementary in Minnetonka, has a three-year ecological project underway to restore a two-acre area back to more of its native habitat. The project is being funded by the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District, and you can follow the progress of the project on the school website and Facebook page. Scenic Heights contracted with Wetland Habitat Restorations to complete the project, because they are committed to using great care and sensitivity when keeping some existing native trees during the restoration project, allowing us to continue to offer our winter and spring programming with Scenic Heights Elementary, Groveland Elementary and Clear Springs Elementary.


Success Academy partnership

Success_Academy.jpgOur Success Academy partnership in east Bloomington is a great example of the difference we are making in the communities we serve. Richardson Nature Center is partnering with Success Academy, a K-6 STEM school (science, technology, engineering and math) that primarily serves East African immigrant families. Located in the Dar Al-Farooq Youth and Family Center, our naturalists provide environmental education for their science curriculum, offering such activities as measuring wind speed, identifying plants, and estimating the ages of large trees. Students even collected and boiled sap to use their homemade syrup on pancakes! Most recently, we hosted an overnight camping trip at Baker Park Reserve, where students had a blast with archery, nature hikes, swimming, setting up camp, and much more.


Silverwood OnStage

06102015_SilverwoodOnStage15-1140x760.jpgSilverwood Park receives grants from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) for our07102015_SilverwoodOnStage01_resized-1140x760.jpg Silverwood OnStage Season. Funding for the grant is provided by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. Our four month Silverwood OnStage season includes concerts, dance, performance arts, puppetry and film presentations between June and September. Be sure to check out one of these excellent productions! More information is available on this Sliverwood OnStage weblink.


Camp leader training & gear library

camping.jpgThree Rivers has kicked off a training and gear lending program to make camping experiences more accessible by equipping educators, youth workers, and community leaders to lead their own overnight trips. In partnership with Wilderness Inquiry, our first hands-on training was held at Baker Park Reserve, and covered trip preparation, camp set up and takedown, kitchen set up and outdoor cooking, fire building, and risk management and safety. Once leaders go through the training, they can reserve a group campsite and camping gear (tents and cooking gear) for groups of up to 50 people. Our first training was attended be leaders from Success Academy, a school within Dar Al-Farooq Community Center in East Bloomington, KWESTRONG Indigenous Women’s Wellness, and Special Olympics. We're planning an additional training with MobileHope Dayton and Outdoor Latino Minnesota.


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John Gunyou
Three Rivers Parks Board Chair