For Immediate Release 6/16/2015
Contact Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
303-545-9011 ext. 115
Photo: Attendees at the Cuyuna Lakes annoucement: Joe Birkholz, Judy Erickson, Representative Dale Lueck and Representative Josh Heintzema. Apologies for the cropping!
With the passage of Minnesota's Legacy Omnibus bill during Friday’s Legislative Special Session, the mountain bike trail system at Cayuna Lakes, already a bronze-level IMBA Ride Center, is poised for further expansion. IMBA has long supported trail development at Cuyuna Lakes, including assistance from the IMBA Trail Fund in 2008, 2011 and 2013.
Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law on Saturday.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will receive approximately $35 million dollars 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 (CCSRA). This will fund phase one of the MN 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, an IMBA chapter. “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.”
“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 CCSRA to continue to have operating support.
“Finally, we would like to thank all of the volunteers, businesses, organizations, and individuals who advocated for Cuyuna this legislative session,” said Hautala. “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-eights of one percent and dedicates it towards these 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. It is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best places in the nation to experience mountain biking.