ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota is set to get about $9 million to renovate parks and build new trails, particularly in urban areas.

That's thanks to the U.S. Department of Interior, which is led by Secretary Deb Haaland. She broke the news during her visit to the Twin Cities on Friday.

"We are committed to ensuring that everyone, no matter where they are from, can enjoy the benefits of nature," said Secretary Haaland.

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Research shows that nature is good for your health, but for a long time, outdoor spaces have lacked diversity and accessibility due to discrimination, and people of color are likely less engaged with nature.

"There's that thought that this is not for us," said Debbie Njai, who started the group Black People Who Hike three years ago. It has thousands of supporters on Instagram, many of whom now hike together every week. 

"When you look at historical exclusion, black people weren't allowed in the same spaces," says Njai. "So we're almost like this first generation that's really having this opportunity to reach the masses and pass this down generationally."

People of color are also three times more likely to live somewhere without immediate access to nature.

RELATED: Minneapolis Parks & Rec votes to reestablish relationship with MPD

The U.S. Department of the Interior says, 26 other cities across the country will get $61 million in grant funding to create new parks, trails or make substantial renovations. It will enable urban communities to create new outdoor recreation spaces and opportunities.

"Not everyone has access to that car, or access to that camper and so the urban parks are such a big part of our life," said Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was also at the event.

The group recognized that while Minnesota's park system is a leader nationwide, there are still 100 million people across the country that don't have one close to home. 

Adding that this money, and people like Debbie Njai, will make nature even more inviting to diverse users.

"Coming out with a group of people that looks like you, you feel safe, there's a sense of community," says Njai. "You know, it's something really special."

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The parks set to get funding include Rice Recreation Center in St. Paul, Soldiers Field Park in Rochester and Willard Park in Minneapolis. 

RELATED: St. Paul, Minneapolis make top five parks systems in America

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