The Mississippi River Parkway Planning Commission was formed in 1938 by the ten river states to initiate a cooperative planning and development program to establish the Great River Road. Public Law 81-262 (1949) authorized the Bureau of Public Roads and the National Park Service to make a feasibility study of the proposed route. Federal studies were completed in 1951 and 1952. The Federal Aid Highway Act (1954) authorized expenditures to expedite planning and coordinating a continuous river road from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. The national commission coordinates at the national level all the objectives and efforts of the ten state commissions. (Source: Interstate compacts and commissions, 1969.)
The Mississippi River Parkway Commission of Minnesota was formally established by the 1963 legislature (Laws 1963 c875 s1) to cooperate with the federal government and the interstate Mississippi River Parkway Planning Commission in maintaining and improving the Great River Road (Mississippi River Parkway), and to aid in promoting and securing a scenic parkway and highway for the state of Minnesota and in securing the location of federal parks in Minnesota. However, it had been operating less formally for several years prior to that date, in connection with earlier Great River Road legislation. As originally established, the commission was composed of nine members: three from the state senate, three from the state house of representatives, and three public members appointed by the governor.
In 1971 a secretary, appointed by the commission, was added as a tenth member (Laws 1971 c653). The commissioner of highways, commissioner of natural resources, and director of the Minnesota Historical Society serve as ex officio members. Commission members serve for two years, upon the legislature's renewal of the commission's enabling act, until the close of the next regular legislative session. They serve without compensation, except for reimbursement of traveling and other expenses.
In 1983 the commissioners of transportation, natural resources, and trade and economic development replaced the governor as appointing authority for three of the members. (Source: Executive branch advisory groups: enabling legislation and significant characteristics / Mark Shepard. 1988.)
The MN-MRPC is part of the National 10 state Mississippi River Parkway Commission.
The Mississippi River Parkway Commission was reviewed by the Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy (LCPFP) in 2013 as part of their biennial duty required by Minn. Stat. 3.885 Subd. 11. The LCPFP's 2013 Recommendations called for keeping the commission.