The parks and trails fund is established in the Minnesota Constitution, article XI, section 15. All money earned by the parks and trails fund must be credited to the fund.
(a) A project or program receiving funding from the parks and trails fund must meet or exceed the constitutional requirement to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance. A project or program receiving funding from the parks and trails fund must include measurable outcomes, as defined in section 3.303, subdivision 10, and a plan for measuring and evaluating the results. A project or program must be consistent with current science and incorporate state-of-the-art technology, except when the project or program is a portrayal or restoration of historical significance.
(b) Money from the parks and trails fund shall be expended to balance the benefits across all regions and residents of the state.
(c) All information for funded projects, including the proposed measurable outcomes, must be made available on the Web site required under section 3.303, subdivision 10, as soon as practicable. Information on the measured outcomes and evaluation must be posted as soon as it becomes available.
(d) Grants funded by the parks and trails fund must be implemented according to section 16B.98 and must account for all expenditures. Proposals must specify a process for any regranting envisioned. Priority for grant proposals must be given to proposals involving grants that will be competitively awarded.
(e) Money from the parks and trails fund may only be spent on projects located in Minnesota.
Money appropriated from the parks and trails fund to the Metropolitan Council shall be distributed to implementing agencies, as defined in section 473.351, subdivision 1, paragraph (a), as grants according to the following formula:
(1) 45 percent of the money must be disbursed according to the allocation formula in section 473.351, subdivision 3, to each implementing agency;
(2) 31.5 percent of the money must be distributed based on each implementing agency's relative share of the most recent estimate of the population of the metropolitan area;
(3) 13.5 percent of the money must be distributed based on each implementing agency's relative share of nonlocal visits based on the most recent user visitation survey conducted by the Metropolitan Council; and
(4) ten percent of the money must be distributed as grants to implementing agencies for land acquisition within Metropolitan Council approved regional parks and trails master plan boundaries under the council's park acquisition opportunity grant program. The Metropolitan Council must provide a match of $2 of the council's park bonds for every $3 of state funds for the park acquisition opportunity grant program.
Data collected by the projects funded with money from the parks and trails fund that have value for planning and management of natural resources, emergency preparedness, and infrastructure investments must conform to the enterprise information architecture developed by the Office of Enterprise Technology. Spatial data must conform to geographic information system guidelines and standards outlined in that architecture and adopted by the Minnesota Geographic Data Clearinghouse at the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office. A description of these data that adheres to the Office of Enterprise Technology geographic metadata standards must be submitted to the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office to be made available online through the clearinghouse and the data must be accessible and free to the public unless made private under chapter 13. To the extent practicable, summary data and results of projects and programs funded with money from the parks and trails fund should be readily accessible on the Internet and identified as a parks and trails fund project.
Beginning July 1, 2011, the commissioner of natural resources shall convene a technical evaluation panel comprised of five members, including one technical representative from the Board of Water and Soil Resources, one technical representative from the Department of Natural Resources, one technical expert from the University of Minnesota or the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and two other representatives with expertise related to the project being evaluated. The commissioner may add a technical representative from a unit of federal or local government. The members of the technical evaluation panel may not be associated with the restoration, may vary depending upon the projects being reviewed, and shall avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Each year, the commissioner shall assign a coordinator to identify a sample of up to ten habitat restoration projects completed with parks and trails funding. The coordinator shall secure the restoration plans for the projects specified and direct the technical evaluation panel to evaluate the restorations relative to the law, current science, and the stated goals and standards in the restoration plan and, when applicable, to the Board of Water and Soil Resources' native vegetation establishment and enhancement guidelines. The coordinator shall summarize the findings of the panel and provide a report to the chairs of the respective house of representatives and senate policy and finance committees with jurisdiction over natural resources and spending from the parks and trails fund. The report shall determine if the restorations are meeting planned goals, any problems with the implementation of restorations, and, if necessary, recommendations on improving restorations. The report shall be focused on improving future restorations. Up to one-tenth of one percent of forecasted receipts from the parks and trails fund may be used for restoration evaluations under this section.