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--  Get Out & Play  -- 

"The Idea" Gary Pines project overview

Community Meeting #1

Sept. 30, 2016



• Virajita Singh Senior Research Fellow, Center for Sustainable Building Research

Assistant Vice Provost, Office for Equity + Diversity

• Linda Kingery Executive Director, Northwest Minnesota Sustainable

Development Partnership (RSDP)

• Karie Kirschbaum Mayor, City of Gary

• Maxwell Dickson Graduate Research Assistant, University of Minnesota

A 160 acre parcel of land was given to Gary by the State of Minnesota in the late 1930's. It was an attempt to address the dust bowl era's probelm of erosion.  The city planted the acreage in pines were planted in 1942 as part of an effort to keep the soil in the area intact. Many projects have taken place over the years including harvesting of trees, replanting, seasons of neglect, building projects by the Gary Lions and now a season of developing reacreationl areas in the forest. The Gary Pines is undergoing a revolution.


The FireWise grant process, which includes fire breaks, burying old debris piles etc., got the community thinking... 'This could just be the beginning, phase one... what if we put our energy toward creating a

"Get Out & Play" area in the Pines?"  This is where phase two came in.

Get Out & Play is an initiative started in Gary in 2013. The first project was the elementary playground, the second was the Elwood Narum Recreational Park which renovated the old tennis/basketball court. The Gary Community Club updated Gary City Park, the roads in town were paved for safer walking, bike riding and other activities. Now, on to the unlimited potential in the 160 acre forest. Here, the possibilities are endless.


Shock & Awe youth philanthropy was the first to grant toward the project. The students donated $2000. Next an application was submitted to and received from the Dekko Foundation in Indiana for $30,000. They awarded the funds. After this the project really began to develop. See the

Our Donors page  for more details.

With this encouragement the U of M Extension office was contacted to help with planning. Through this relationship Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), U of M College of Design, Center for Sustainable Building Research (CSBR) and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnership joined to work toward a sustainable master plan for the Pines. This will was completed January, 2017


With the master plan in hand, more grant requests were submitted. Work on the final phase, phase three began the spring of 2017. As of August 2017, there were six miles of trails, a ninja course (obstacles), hitching posts and mounting blocks for horse enthusiasts, and a Lions Memorial Forest.  Coming soon will be campgrounds, parking for OHV and horse trailsers to load and unload, picnic areas.


In the Spring of 2018, in time for the grand opening June 16 during Gary Days, an art installation of chainsaw statues by Scott Petry of Andy Lake Woodworks was installed. This is made possible by an $8,000 grant from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Legacy grant.

Preserving our heritage of  nature and recreation in the Gary Pines recreational area

Dream the dream in rural Minnesota by creating a sustainable forest  to experience

Partnering with like-minded groups, citizens and granting bodies to reach common goals

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