GRAND FORKS -- Getting a shout-out from North Dakota’s governor presents the International Peace Garden with a unique chance to showcase the park and the improvements that will make visiting it an even better experience, an International Peace Garden spokeswoman said.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum referred to the International Peace Garden during his State of the State address Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Grand Forks. Burgum discussed how a $5 million Challenge Grant will be used to make improvements at the International Peace Garden.

But the Challenge Grant only can be used if Canadian dollars match it. The Peace Garden straddles the border between the two countries.

“This is an excellent opportunity. The Peace Garden has a long legacy in North Dakota,” Melinda Goodman, International Peace Garden communication director, said.

The North Dakota Legislature last year approved funding for the matching grant, and during his Wednesday speech, Burgum urged Canada to do the same.

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“Way to put the Challenge Grant out there to get Manitoba and Canada to do that,” Burgum said, referring to the Legislature. "There are some overdue repairs and expanded offerings. This thing has the opportunity to really be a significant destination in helping us attract and retain workforce and to really celebrate the fact that borders matter, countries matter and relationships matter.“

The International Peace Garden has long been an iconic destination, Goodman said, noting that North Dakota gets its nickname, the “Peace Garden State,” from the location.

“The wonderful thing about Gov. Burgum is the ability to recall all these gems throughout the state,” she said.

During the past year, Burgum has shown he is a champion for many areas of North Dakota and has helped to promote and enhance the state's communities and destinations, Goodman said.

“That commitment has extended to funding for many capital improvement projects that are part of a deferred maintenance schedule that will not only update facilities, but improve the visitor experience,” she said.

Capital improvement projects will include remodeling the Conservatory, which contains more than 5,000 unique cacti and succulent plants, making it one of the largest unique species collections in the world, Goodman said.

“Improvements and enhancements of this facility are critical to address deferred maintenance and improve energy efficiency and reduce operational costs,” she said.

Meanwhile, expanding the Conservatory’s interpretation, interaction and exploration space will create opportunities to use the building year-round.

Other improvements at the International Peace Garden will include upgrading electrical services at individual campsites; repairing stonework and water features in the Formal Channel, which is an iconic Peace Garden element; and repair work at the Willis Pavilion, Peace Garden Chapel, Historic Lodge and the Masonic Auditorium.

The request for matching the $5 million is before the Manitoba Legislature, Goodman said.

“It’s in the works,” she said.

The International Peace Garden board also has met with Manitoba government officials about funding the grant, Goodman said.

“We also are committed to working with the private sector and creating more collaborative partnerships with individuals and businesses to expand our fundraising efforts on both sides of the border to match and exceed the state and province contributions to contribute to maintain and build the legacy of the Peace Garden," Goodman said.

The revitalized energy and enthusiasm for the Peace Garden can be credited, in part, to new programming that welcomes families and visitors throughout the summer, she said.