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FARMINGTON, Minn. (May 7, 2009) — More than 120 Dakota Electric Association members volunteered time on May 2 to help work in Fort Snelling State Park as part of the tenth annual, state-wide, Touchstone Energy GreenTouch day. Local electric cooperatives around the state of Minnesota helped organize 743 volunteers who worked more than 2,300 hours — armed with rakes, clippers, trash bags and work gloves — to help prepare 15 Minnesota state parks for the spring and summer seasons.

Dakota Electric members collected trash and pulled garlic mustard, an exotic species that overtakes the forest floor and crowds out other plants. The group of energetic cooperative members performed 390 hours of service to prepare Fort Snelling for summer hikers, bikers and nature lovers.

“We are appreciative of those who came out to help make the park better for everyone who enjoys it,” Mark Cleveland of Fort Snelling State Park said.

The GreenTouch project is a partnership between Minnesota’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives and the Minnesota State Park system. Electric cooperatives in Minnesota over the last nine years have contributed to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help fund the State Park guide and Junior Park Naturalist program. Over that time, GreenTouch has provided nearly 6,000 volunteers who have worked more than 20,600 hours for the Minnesota State Park system.

Each cooperative that took part in the GreenTouch event recruited members and employees to volunteer at state parks within or near their service areas. Dakota Electric volunteers included families, individuals, scouts and other groups from around Dakota County.

“Dakota Electric would like to thank everyone who helped make this event a success,” said Joe Miller of Dakota Electric. “This annual event provides a way for Dakota Electric and its members to demonstrate their commitment to the local community and the environment.”

Following is a list of the electric cooperatives around Minnesota that helped provide volunteers for GreenTouch: Beltrami Electric, Clearwater-Polk, Cooperative Light & Power, Crow Wing Power, Dakota Electric Association, East Central Energy, Federated Rural Electric, Itasca-Mantrap, Lake Country Power, Mille Lacs Energy, P.K.M. Electric, Red River Valley, Roseau Electric and Tri-County Electric. The following parks benefited from thousands of GreenTouch volunteers this May: Bemidji State Park, Buffalo River, Crow Wing, Cuyuna Recreation Area, Gooseberry Falls, Father Hennepin, Forestville, Fort Snelling, Itasca, Jay Cooke, Hayes Lake, Kathio, Kilen Woods, Lake Bronson and Old Mill and Pattison in Wisconsin.

A customer-owned, non-profit utility since 1937, Dakota Electric Association provides electricity to more than 100,000 members throughout Dakota County and portions of Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties. Dakota Electric is a Touchstone Energy cooperative.

Touchstone Energy is a nation-wide alliance of 680 electric cooperatives in 46 states serving more than 40 million members with integrity, accountability, innovation and a longstanding commitment to communities.