The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is working with Minnesotarn to undertake a transformational effort to identify a new funding framework for outdoor recreation and conservation. The aim is to ensure that the DNR can serve new, returning, and longtime outdoor enthusiasts and sustainably manage the state’s natural resources for generations to come.
“Minnesota’s high quality, diverse, and abundant outdoor facilities and opportunities are available today because the state has made significant investments in the past. Unfortunately, the same basic investments are not being made today, ”said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “I am excited and encouraged as we make these important efforts to ensure that conservation and outdoor recreation are adequately and sustainably funded. With the help of the Minnesotans, we have the opportunity to help shape a vision for the future that we wish for future generations. “
Minnesota’s current outdoor funding model faces several challenges. For example, user fees are not keeping pace with inflation, making it difficult for DNR to properly manage resources and provide open and affordable access to nature. In addition, while Minnesotans have shown their support for the environment and nature through the Constitutional Dedicated Trust Fund for Environment and Natural Resources and the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Addition, those funds are focused on specific uses and are not available to support a few important ones Aspects of natural resources support management and outdoor recreation.
“More Minnesotans than ever are realizing the physical and mental benefits of nature,” said Erika Rivers, DNR director of parks and trails. “The increased use and appreciation of public land during the pandemic has demonstrated the need for a new funding framework to ensure that these experiences are fair and available to all Minnesotans – now and in the future.”
The current phase of the future funding project will focus on generating ideas and public engagement in order to identify a future vision for outdoor recreation and nature conservation and possible financing solutions. In addition to public relations work, the DNR will work together with important consultants and employees of the DNR. By the second half of 2022, this collaborative effort will create an actionable funding framework that reflects research, best practice and diverse public contributions.
“Minnesotan views on this setting will be critical – we want to hear from new and long-time outdoor enthusiasts, as well as those who have felt unwelcome or left out,” said Dave Olfelt, DNR Fish and Wildlife Director. “Quality natural resources and access to outdoor recreational opportunities are central to our quality of life in Minnesota. Funding conservation and outdoor recreation requires a collaborative approach that encompasses the spectrum of ways people interact with nature. “
Current opportunities for public engagement can be found on the DNR’s online engagement page, bit.ly/3BdBIsw. All interested parties are invited to stay informed about future opportunities and receive updates by subscribing to the project’s email list bit.ly/3BdBIsw.