Trails and Open Space Partnership


TOSP is a coalition of over 50 agencies and organizations working to achieve the vision of "a continuous linear trail, open space, and alternative transportation system along the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities metro area while protecting the corridor's natural, cultural, and economic resources" (Vision). This important vision was identified in the 1995 Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park Service. The National Park Service, with the support of the Metropolitan Council, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the MN Parks and Trails Council, established the TOSP in the Fall of 1996 to help local communities in the MNRRA corridor realize this important vision.

By Fall 2000 membership had grown to include representatives of the twenty-five local governments and seven regional implementing agencies in the 72-mile Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the University of Minnesota, and many non-profit organizations like the Trust for Public Land, the Saint Paul and Minneapolis Riverfront Corporations, the National Audubon Society, Friends of Parks, Friends of the Mississippi River, and the Midtown Greenway Coalition. Below are some additional highlights of the TOSP's accomplishments. Many of the trails along the river are part of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), which, in 2000, was designated a national millennium trail by President Clinton. The TOSP's goal is to complete the MRT in the twin cities metro area by 2016, the National Park Service centennial.


Organizational Structure

  • An informal coalition of regional, state, and national organizations involved in trail and open space planning and development. The National Park Service provides overall coordination and facilitation.
  • Subcommittees handle funding, advocacy, and inter-agency coordination. An alternative transportation workgroup has assisted the TOSP with defining the park's alternative transportation system.
  • The TOSP has successfully helped to build consensus and create awareness for its vision to local communities, the State Legislature, US Congress, and various national organizations and decision- makers primarily through the development of promotional tools and public outreach.
  • The TOSP's collaborative structure and process has been used as a model for various national projects and is a true example of a successful partnership working to achieve common goals.
  • The TOSP coordinates with various resource protection agencies and organizations to ensure the natural, cultural, and economic resources of the Mississippi River Corridor are protected. Many of these organizations are members of the TOSP. In addition, and separate from the TOSP, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area's Stewardship Division is implementing and funding many resource protection efforts within the corridor.


  • Involvement in the TOSP increases visibility of an agency or organization's goals and assists in achieving the overall vision.
  • Partners are able to share information, pool resources, and collaborate on developing common goals, and the tools to promote them, thereby increasing their agency's efficiency.
  • Collaboration has proven to be a useful tool to achieve both individual and corridor-wide goals, and for resolving conflicting issues.
  • Various projects have received over 35 million in state and federal funding due primarily to the coordinated efforts of TOSP members and the individual project's relationship to the overall vision.

Available Tools/Products

  • Alternative Transportation System, which includes multi-modal trip planning utilizing recreational trails, transit facilities, water access, and bike share stations.
  • Digital Trail Slide Library
  • Mississippi River Companion - A multi-modal guide to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
  • Technical Assistance, including identification of available funding opportunities
  • Selection criteria for identifying priorities, issues to address, and funding needs
  • Online Scoping Tool - Data-base of project ideas/funding opportunities

Last updated: January 1, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

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