We rely on membership donations to keep our organization running. If you’re looking for a terrific non-profit worthy of your tax-deductible donation, look no further. If you’re looking for a gift for the holidays, consider a gift of membership in The Friends or a Tribute Tree donation to plant a tree in one of our metro-area parks.
We’ve been hard at work to live up to our vision and mission throughout 2019. Here are some of the highlights as we look at the year in review:
Strategic Plan – While we have always had a Work Plan that was guided by our Vision and Mission, we did not have a Strategic Plan until this year. The full document can be found on our website. It outlines our core values of:
—Environmental Stewardship. We believe our actions have lasting community impacts and therefore we must be responsible stewards of our planet for ourselves and for future generations.
—Resiliency and Sustainability. We believe that our work can make substantial positive impacts on the ability of our local community to adapt to coming challenges.
—Equity and Inclusion. We believe that we are part of a larger whole and everyone deserves to be heard and valued and that barriers in our parks and trails systems which prevent equal access and opportunity must be eliminated.
—Collaboration and Partnership. We believe in partnering with others to build our own understanding, increase the quality of desired outcomes and provide leadership in the community.
Annual Tree Sale and Tribute Tree Donation Programs – We hold one fundraiser every year, our Annual Tree Sale. In addition to raising funds to support our work, we also see it as providing a community service. Folks can purchase trees, shrubs, vines, roses, and edible fruit plants for their own yards or make a cash donation to parks. In 2019, for the first time, we offered a native perennial (liatris, a favorite of monarch butterflies). It was so successfully received that we have expanded our offerings of native perennials for our sale next year. In 2019, we donated over $7,000.00 to St. Paul, Ramsey County, and more than 20 other park systems throughout the Twin Cities through our tree donation programs. Since these programs began more than thirty years ago, we have donated more than 7,600 trees to metro area parks.
Parks Chapter of the St. Paul Comprehensive Plan – Cities are required by law to update their Comprehensive Plans every ten years. We worked with the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department and the St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Department on the language for the Parks Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan. In addition to providing input and feedback on the written document, we also testified before the Planning Commission and the City Council prior to its adoption earlier this year.
Hidden Falls/Crosby Farm Regional Park Task Force – As a member of the Task Force, we worked with staff and other community members on plan updates for these two parks. The Masterplan was approved by the St. Paul City Council in July.
Great River Passage Masterplan – The City of St. Paul has been working to bring elements of the Masterplan into fruition. As part of that effort, we participated with dozens of other community organizations and stakeholders to highlight our work within the river corridor and to build understanding and partnerships within our communities.
Ford Site Masterplan – The City of St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Department did extensive work on the site plan over a ten-year period and in 2018, the Ford Motor Company chose Ryan Companies to develop it. As part of the planning work, one of our board members was appointed to serve on the Community Task Force. In addition, we submitted written comments and gave oral testimony to the Planning Commission and City Council. We spoke on behalf of parks and trails and their importance in all development and redevelopment planning. The Ford Site Masterplan is in an overlay district within The Great River Passage Masterplan and The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) and The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), which is the National Park running through our city. We continue to be involved as Ryan Companies makes adjustments to the Masterplan.
Pig’s Eye Regional Park – As with the Ford Site, Pig’s Eye is also within the boundaries of the Great River Passage Masterplan, MRCCA and MNRRA. A business expansion has been proposed for an area in Pig’s Eye and we are part of ongoing conversations as a member of the Red Rock Stakeholders Group.
Boys Totem Town – The Friends’ executive director and a member of the Board of Directors both served on The Boys Totem Town Task Force. Boys Totem Town was used as a Ramsey County juvenile correctional facility located on nearly 80 acres of land on St. Paul’s Eastside. Much of the property is wooded and in a natural state. We worked with the Community Council, the neighborhood, and Ramsey County to explore options of what to do with the property now that the site is closed.
Wakan Tipi Center at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary – The Friends support The Lower Phalen Creek Project in their work to receive funding for this project. The concept envisions a visitor and interpretive center to honor and interpret the Dakota sacred site, Wakan Tipi. More than 100 miles of recreational trails converge at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and the St. Paul Public School System takes all fifth graders there as part of their social studies curriculum.
Trout Brook Regional Trail Masterplan – We supported efforts to add Option B to the Masterplan, advocating for trails to be incorporated as part of street work.
Indian Mounds Regional Park – We participated in community outreach as part of the City of St. Paul’s redesign of some of the trails.
Waterfest at Lake Phalen Regional Park – We took part in this fun community event to reach a broader audience and educate the public on environmental issues.
Communications – We are on Facebook and send email communications to our members, alerting them to current topics and actions they can take to be involved and make a positive impact on park policies. Our website and our blog help our membership stay informed.
Annual Membership Meeting – The annual meeting was held to provide updates to the membership and give them the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the Board of Directors. New directors were voted in by the membership.