DNR Parks Pass Grant Program Expands to Columbia Heights

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DNR Parks Pass Grant Program Expands to Columbia Heights

The Columbia Heights Public Library is participating in a DNR grant program to encourage state park use by low-income individuals and first-time park users.

The program will grow from 71 to 117 participating libraries, offering 175 passes statewide for check-out to Minnesotans living in lower-income communities. Library programs like this have become popular across the country, with California launching a new program in 2022. These programs provide opportunities for individuals or families with limited income to access their state parks free of charge.
The 2021 pilot program saw more than 1,500 park pass check-outs in the first six months. In a survey of pass users, only 36 percent said they would have purchased an annual state park vehicle permit. This would fill a gap of about 900 visits to state parks that would not have otherwise happened during that time.
“It has been wonderful to see the impact this program has had on Minnesotans,” said Arielle Courtney, DNR Parks, and Trails partnership consultant. “We are working hard to address the many barriers that prevent people from getting to state parks, and this program is a step toward making it easier for everyone to enjoy our public lands.”

The program started June 1; three passes are available for seven-day checkout. Passes are for entry to the parks, but not camping or equipment rentals. Park passes will be first come, first served (not reservable, renewable, or transferrable) and available to anyone with a library card registered with CHPL or Anoka County Library (ACL). The grant period is from 2022 to 2025.

“This exciting new partnership with the DNR advances the library’s mission of serving Columbia Heights with responsive collections and programs to meet the unique needs of our community,” said Library Director Renee Dougherty. “Being, playing, and learning outside has tremendous health and educational benefits and I’m so pleased to offer state park passes for checkout.”

The Columbia Heights Public Library hours of operation:
Mon-Thu: 10 am - 7 pm
Fri: 10 am - 4 pm
Sat: 10 am - 3 pm
Sun: Closed