More than 40 current and prospective members turned out at Battle Creek Regional Park on June 14, 2023 for the first in-person Annual Meeting for Friends of the Parks and Trails since 2019. The group socialized, learned about advocacy opportunities, dined on delicious sandwiches from Nelson’s Cheese and Deli in St. Paul, and held a business meeting that included the formal election of already-serving board members and officers.
Highlights of the evening included:
- A tour of the 77-acre grasslands that a variety of environmental groups hopes to save from development given its usefulness as a haven for ground-nesting birds. John Zakelj, president of Friends of Maplewood Nature and a longtime member of Friends of the Parks and Trails, took 26 people around the perimeter of the grasslands, which Ramsey County recently posted for “no trespassing.” The group was excited to see Bobolinks, a Dickcissel, Savanna Sparrows, American Kestrel, Henslow’s Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Purple Finch and American Goldfinch.
- Ex-officio board member Jimmy Shoemaker, a planner with St. Paul Public Works, discussed the city’s Bicycle Plan, recently updated from 2015. It is a long-range, visionary document with a five-year scope that prioritizes bike lane improvements, especially separated trails for biking, throughout the city. Public comment is available through July.
- Members voted to update the Friends of the Parks and Trails bylaws in three ways: to reflect gender-inclusive language, changing pronouns from “he/him” to “they/them”; to specify that the organization’s fiscal year is the same as the calendar year; and to spell out that donations of any amount include a one-year membership in the organization.
- Board President Scott Ramsay — who was honored on June 21 as the Friends’ “Volunteer of the Year” at the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy‘s annual Party for the Parks event — introduced Peggy Lynch, the founder and longtime executive director of Friends of the Parks and Trails. We were honored to have Peggy in our midst.
- Scott also oversaw the election of board officers: himself as president; Reier Erickson as vice president; and Andy Capistrant as treasurer. Other board members elected to three-year terms included Richard Arey, Clara James, Dan McGarry, Kathy Sidles, Leslie Tunstall and Ashley Ward.
A gallery of photos shows an event that was both fun and informative:
All photos by Wolfie Browender, except Scott Ramsay’s (by Dana Larsen-Ramsay)