Anoka County wants to incorporate three county parks into the regional park system overseen by the Metropolitan Council.

Commissioners approved an application to the Met Council May 12 to designate Coon Lake County Park a regional park. County staff argued Coon Lake County Park meets the requirements for a regional park because it offers a diversity of nature-based resources including Coon Lake, wetlands, prairie and woodlands. It also contains picnicking facilities, a boat launch, beach and other facilities and meets the minimum size at 110 acres, according to board documents.

Commissioners also approved an application to combine the existing Rum River Central Regional Park with the Rum River North and Rum River South county parks and the Rum River Water Trail to create a larger regional park. The single, cohesive park would help introduce people to the Rum River and facilitate natural resource education, recreation and stewardship, according to board documents.

Staff had been considering when the parks might be considered regional parks and believe the time is now, Commissioner Mike Gamache said. If the parks are regional, the county will be able to get additional money for them, Gamache said.

“That would obviously help us in funding and some work that we may need to do with that expansion as well,” Gamache said.

The Met Council allocates state and regional funds to acquire land and develop the regional parks system. Funding generally comes from state and regional bonds, the Minnesota Environmental Trust Fund, Parks and Trails Legacy Fund and interest, according to the council’s website.

“I think this is just the way we can look to increase the funding we can get from the Met Council,” Gamache said.

When asked if the change would impact the county’s authority over the park, Gamache said he wasn’t sure but didn’t think it would impact how the county oversees the park.

Regional parks are operated by the cities, counties or special districts the council partners with according to the council’s website.

“In the long run I don’t expect that we’ll have any issues,” Gamache said. “I think we’ll just have more options as a regional park.”

Other regional parks in the county include Anoka County Riverfront Regional Park, Bunker Hills Regional Park, Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Lake George Regional Park, Martin-Island-Linwood Lakes Regional Park, Mississippi West Regional Park and Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve.

The Met Council’s 2040 regional parks policy plan calls for the expansion of the parks system.

The Met Council was put in charge of overseeing acquisition and development of regional parks in 1974.

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