A dozen Pine County residents met at the North Pine Government center to discuss forming a Friends of Banning State Park group. Park managers of Banning and St. Croix State Park led a discussion about the process of forming a group and what sort of activities these groups typically engage in.

    According to literature brought by the park managers, friends groups are vital to preserving parks “by helping provide fundraising, recruiting volunteers, leading restoration projects, and providing educational programming for the public.” The assembled group was especially interested in consistent cross country ski trail grooming, year round family friendly events, general trail maintenance, and invasive species control.

    Everyone who attended agreed a group should be formed. The major decision left for determination was what legal structure it would take. The group can form as an organized, but un-official, group of volunteers, which would have limits on fundraising and could not acquire its own insurance,or it could form a 501c3 non-profit organization, which can apply for grants and take out insurance, but would require a board of directors and would have financial and legal obligations.

    With the thinking that a non-profit would have more fundraising opportunities, and would likely be more long lasting, the group decided to explore forming a non-profit. Three people volunteered to take positions on the board of directors, with one more needed.

    This leadership team will meet to begin the first steps, which include forming a mission statement and establishing the board of directors. They will present their progress to the larger group on Feb. 26, at 6 p.m. at the North Pine Government Center.

Anyone with interest or questions can contact Banning State Park for more information.

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