Investing in Minnesota’s Outdoor Resources

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Thank you Minnesota for sharing your experience and expertise on conservation, outdoor recreation, and funding options!

Minnesota DNR asked for your help to establish a new approach to funding conservation and outdoor recreation and you stepped up. Your input helped form a vision for the future and identify actions to move us forward. We are working now to pull together all the findings and aim to have a report published fall of 2022 and moving toward implementation in 2023. Please visit the project website for updates.

In the meantime, please continue to share your thoughts and ideas. Subscribe to stay up to date and to get alerts when there are new opportunities to add your voice to the conversation.


A vision for the future of conservation and outdoor recreation:

  • Future generations benefit from sustained and improved outdoor recreation experiences and conservation of natural resources
    • Robust, diverse, and high-quality outdoor resources offering all Minnesotans nature-based recreation opportunities
    • Ample conservation of high-quality lands and waters providing all Minnesotans the benefits of high-functioning ecosystems
    • Conservation and outdoor recreation decisions based on community values and informed by science and proven best management practices
  • Minnesotans work together to support both diverse outdoor recreation opportunities and conservation of our state’s natural features
    • The relationship between conservation and recreation uses and spaces is fully understood and accounted for in decision making
    • DNR and other Minnesota conservation and outdoor recreation organizations work together effectively, with the complexities of interconnected decision making well understood
    • Resources are managed in a manner that fosters innovation and adaptation to changing ecological, social, and technological conditions
  • Conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities equitably meet the needs of all Minnesotans
    • All Minnesotans can access conservation and outdoor recreation services and resources equitably, and management of resources adapts to meet Minnesotans’ needs as they change over time
    • Support for conservation and outdoor recreation is broad-based with shared stewardship across users and uses
    • Minnesotans know how funding for conservation and outdoor recreation is invested and how their communities benefit
  • Conservation and outdoor recreation align with and are integrated into Minnesota state priorities of strong educational systems, equitable access to health resources, thriving economy, and reliable infrastructure.
    • Conservation and outdoor recreation are integrated with, supportive, and supported by other related state priorities
    • Conservation and outdoor recreation are recognized by all as “need to have”, rather than “nice to have”, in funding and policy decision making.
    • To help identify alignment with other priorities, solutions for management and funding issues are developed by participants with a variety of experiences and perspectives and with a broad definition of nature and nature experiences

Funding solutions to achieve the vision will foster a future where:

  • Minnesotans share in the “business case” and the “social case” for conservation and outdoor recreation investment, understanding what we gain or lose through investment choices, and apply this perspective in decision making
  • DNR and partners have sufficient funding to address natural resource issues, particularly the critical, emergent issues that will most impact Minnesota in coming years
  • Funding is predictable, stable, and flexible enough to meet its intended purposes for conservation and outdoor recreation management

Minnesota’s current natural resources funding system can’t sustainably support continued conservation, natural resource management, and outdoor recreation opportunities. For example, user fees cannot reasonably keep pace with inflation while also ensuring we can appropriately steward Minnesota’s natural resources and provide open and affordable access to the outdoors for all people. While Minnesotans have demonstrated support for the environment and outdoors through the constitutionally-dedicated Environmental Trust Fund and Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, these funds are not available to support key aspects of natural resource management.

Thank you Minnesota for sharing your experience and expertise on conservation, outdoor recreation, and funding options!

Minnesota DNR asked for your help to establish a new approach to funding conservation and outdoor recreation and you stepped up. Your input helped form a vision for the future and identify actions to move us forward. We are working now to pull together all the findings and aim to have a report published fall of 2022 and moving toward implementation in 2023. Please visit the project website for updates.

In the meantime, please continue to share your thoughts and ideas. Subscribe to stay up to date and to get alerts when there are new opportunities to add your voice to the conversation.


A vision for the future of conservation and outdoor recreation:

  • Future generations benefit from sustained and improved outdoor recreation experiences and conservation of natural resources
    • Robust, diverse, and high-quality outdoor resources offering all Minnesotans nature-based recreation opportunities
    • Ample conservation of high-quality lands and waters providing all Minnesotans the benefits of high-functioning ecosystems
    • Conservation and outdoor recreation decisions based on community values and informed by science and proven best management practices
  • Minnesotans work together to support both diverse outdoor recreation opportunities and conservation of our state’s natural features
    • The relationship between conservation and recreation uses and spaces is fully understood and accounted for in decision making
    • DNR and other Minnesota conservation and outdoor recreation organizations work together effectively, with the complexities of interconnected decision making well understood
    • Resources are managed in a manner that fosters innovation and adaptation to changing ecological, social, and technological conditions
  • Conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities equitably meet the needs of all Minnesotans
    • All Minnesotans can access conservation and outdoor recreation services and resources equitably, and management of resources adapts to meet Minnesotans’ needs as they change over time
    • Support for conservation and outdoor recreation is broad-based with shared stewardship across users and uses
    • Minnesotans know how funding for conservation and outdoor recreation is invested and how their communities benefit
  • Conservation and outdoor recreation align with and are integrated into Minnesota state priorities of strong educational systems, equitable access to health resources, thriving economy, and reliable infrastructure.
    • Conservation and outdoor recreation are integrated with, supportive, and supported by other related state priorities
    • Conservation and outdoor recreation are recognized by all as “need to have”, rather than “nice to have”, in funding and policy decision making.
    • To help identify alignment with other priorities, solutions for management and funding issues are developed by participants with a variety of experiences and perspectives and with a broad definition of nature and nature experiences

Funding solutions to achieve the vision will foster a future where:

  • Minnesotans share in the “business case” and the “social case” for conservation and outdoor recreation investment, understanding what we gain or lose through investment choices, and apply this perspective in decision making
  • DNR and partners have sufficient funding to address natural resource issues, particularly the critical, emergent issues that will most impact Minnesota in coming years
  • Funding is predictable, stable, and flexible enough to meet its intended purposes for conservation and outdoor recreation management

Minnesota’s current natural resources funding system can’t sustainably support continued conservation, natural resource management, and outdoor recreation opportunities. For example, user fees cannot reasonably keep pace with inflation while also ensuring we can appropriately steward Minnesota’s natural resources and provide open and affordable access to the outdoors for all people. While Minnesotans have demonstrated support for the environment and outdoors through the constitutionally-dedicated Environmental Trust Fund and Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, these funds are not available to support key aspects of natural resource management.

Questions

Thank you for your interest in this work! We will do our best to respond to as many questions and comments as possible.

Please visit the frequently asked questions section to see some common items and a list of complied suggestions we have gotten for possible solutions. This is an on-going process, thank you for your participation! 

You need to be signed in to add your question.

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    Off Road Motor Sports is a rapidly expanding sector of our population in Minnesota. These user groups are putting more and more pressure on infrastructure which is inadequately developed to meet demand. An example is the the Virginia Expansion at the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area. This project has been on the books for over 20 years. The inability to move projects forward causes a multitude of problems with user groups and local communities. This is just one of the ORV projects which has been in the cue for several years. How is the MN DNR working with user groups to move ORV projects forward?

    SMMJPR asked 8 months ago

    Hello and thank you for the question, 

    I reached out to some of our staff that work more directly with OHV planning to help me get you a best answer. 

    DNR recognizes the growth in OHV recreation and is currently completing strategic master plans to accommodate the increase in growth. For the specific example of the Iron Range OHV SRA, DNR has received a trail plan from our contractor and begun constructing the core trail. Trail construction will continue with use-specific trails this summer.

    You can find more information on OHV planning, links to resources, and a sign-up to stay connected on OHV issues here


    Thanks 

    Vanessa

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    Here are some funding inputs & ideas. Instead of always targeting the hunting & fishing sportsmen & women for extra funding. Which we as a group seem to be willing to contribute our fair share of licensing fees/taxes etc. to enjoy our state's outdoors & conserve our natural resources. I suggested this previously in an MN Outdoor News Commentary. MN should find a way to create a MN Conservation & Outdoor Recreation Card. Targeting all MN residents & non residents who enjoy our state's outdoor & recreation opportunities & help conserve this state's great natural resources for future generations. How do we & who do we implement & what cost is this MN Conservation & Outdoor Recreation Card? Maybe card fee requirement for: All Residents & Non Residents 16 yrs or older require this MN Conservation & Outdoor Recreation Card. Or maybe a renewable individual card or family card. Set Fee for card annually or every 2 yrs or 4 yrs TBD Cost $10/$20/$40 TBD Small price to pay for enjoying our MN Natural resources & conserving for future generations. One Card is Needed for people doing or enjoying these MN Natural Resources: fishing/hunting/trapping/biking/hiking/ boating/recreational use atv/utv/state parks/camping/state forests/national forests/rivers/lakes/public accesses/WMA/WPA/walk paths/bird watchers/ etc. Than MN & DNR must be transparent where these funds are being utilized to preserve our MN Natural resources & so future generations can enjoy MN great outdoors & we continue to contribute funding through this card for future generations. Plus we need all MN to support legacy funding next it comes up for vote & MN must maintain transparency in these funds spending & only be used for what they were intended for. Thank you for allowing input on future fund raising for MN DNR.

    kentjohnson asked 9 months ago

    Hello and thank you for writing in!

    We have heard from many people (both hunters/anglers and non-hunter/anglers) that strongly agree with your suggestion that there be broader responsibility and more shared stewardship among users. We have also heard a strong message around transparency and how important it is for communities to know how dollars are being invested in conservation and recreation. 

    I appreciate the specific recommendation with examples of how a recreation card might be implemented. I will make sure this idea for a solution is included in discussions as we move forward. If you have additional thoughts, please feel free to add them to the "developing solutions" section on this page (newly added since you wrote in).

    Thanks again,

    Vanessa

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    It is difficult for me, as well as many others, to get behind new revenue streams for DNR. As someone who is a "quiet recreationist" and doesn't own an OHV or snowmobile, we have not been heard or recognized by this administration. This in fact is not new, the governor/legislature/corporate world are driving the bus and in fact decimating our natural world. If you've spent anytime outside in our state, county, and national forests you can easily recognize the damages being done. So my question is why should I or others buy into new revenue streams when nothing is being done to save what is rapidly diminishing. Please, no patronizing/pat on the head answers

    dawilm asked 7 months ago

    Hello and thanks for the question and comment. 

    I have few thoughts, but want to start with an item of clarification. This process is not necessarily about new revenue streams. We have recognized some potential vulnerabilities in funding that may make it difficult to provide the services Minnesotans expect, so we are exploring what funding improvements might look like broadly. It might be new revenue, it might be using the revenue we have in different ways. We have also had people suggest DNR do/spend less as a solution. We are still in the solutions building phase of the work so we don’t know the outcome yet. 

    More to your question, ultimately it is up to you if you participate in discussions on conservation and outdoor recreation. It can be frustrating to participate in a process if you don’t feel like you are being listened to. Also, it can feel like you aren’t being listened to, even if you are, if you aren’t seeing the results you want as quickly as you want (or at all). We are aiming to work with a broad array of Minnesotans on an improved funding future for conservation and outdoor recreation. We are listening closely to the input we are getting and I hope you, and many other Minnesotans, continue to include your perspective as a part of the discussion.  

    Finally, I will share that we have heard a similar concerns from others about how different aspects of natural resources and recreation are managed in Minnesota. Because of that feedback, we included this as a primary piece of the shared vision we developed and are eager to hear solutions that will help us address. The portion of the vision I am referring to is copied below. 


    Minnesotans work together to support diverse outdoor recreation opportunities and conservation of our state’s natural features.

    Minnesotans value our wonderfully diverse natural world, with its outstanding land and water resources and recreational opportunities. We also count on the diversity of people and organizations that care for Minnesota’s outdoors, from government agencies with statewide responsibilities, like the DNR to local groups or individuals focused on a single place special to them. These people and organizations can benefit Minnesota by embracing the complexities, looking for ways to work together, and lifting up what each person or organization does best.

    Key aspects for the future of critical collaboration include:

    • The relationship between conservation and recreation uses and spaces is fully understood and accounted for in decision making
    • DNR and other Minnesota conservation and outdoor recreation organizations work together effectively, with the complexities of interconnected decision making well understood
    • Resources are managed in a manner that fosters innovation and adaptation to changing ecological, social, and technological conditions
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    Unlike property owners who live next to state forests or state parks, shoreland property owners are the main source of funds used to manage lakes and control AIS. Yet all of the residents of Minnesota benefit from their efforts. Minnesota charges parking fees at state parks ($7 daily or $35 annually). Is it possible to do the same at public accesses and to use the revenue to match contributions of lakeshore residents? This approach more equitably shares the cost of lake management and may even increase the participation of lake shore residents.

    Truman asked 9 months ago

    Hello and thanks for writing!

    Shared stewardship and more disbursed responsibility for funding conservation and outdoor recreation resources has been a strong theme in the feedback we have gotten so far. I appreciate the specific suggestion and example you provided. I will make sure this is part of discussions moving forward as we start to explore solutions!

    Vanessa

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    What about the idea of corporate sponsorships? Let them put up their logo only at the entrances for a fee. Let them have retreats at their sponsored parks, and invite employees up to the park for volunteer maintenance.

    Steve W. asked 9 months ago

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    We are open to explore all ideas. We have heard from others how it is important that businesses that benefit from quality conservation and outdoor recreation resources contribute to maintaining the resources. This could include business with a direct benefit (e.g. recreation equipment sellers) or indirect benefit (e.g. businesses able to attract and retain workers because of natural amenities and high quality of life). 

    We have also heard that direct cooperate sponsorship of public assets could cause, or cause the perception of, conflicts of interest in management decisions. That doesn't mean the option is impossible, but has an extra element of consideration. 

    Thanks again for reaching out!

    Vanessa


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    Is it possible to get additional monies to put into our lakes to control AIS (especially Eurasian Milfoil)? It seems without significant investment this invasive species is overtaking many of our beautiful of our lakes.

    Mike M asked 9 months ago

    Hello and thanks for the question - 

    You ask if it is possible if it is possible to invest more in AIS management. I don't have an answer for you right now, but I have noted your concern for discussions. I think you make an interesting point, however, which is: what is the potential cost of not investing in natural resources. AIS is one good example where the impacts of AIS on water resources could be more expensive than the management. 

    Looking at the whole picture of funding will need to consider the cost of action and the cost of inaction. 

    Thanks again for the question

    Vanessa

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    As an avid youth supporter...what can be done by the MN DNR and the State of MN to help change the hateful anti-gun climate in MN? Is there anyway the DNR can create a campaign to show that it's 'trendy' or 'cool' to be in a hunting situation- or on a range- or a shooting team- and show that there is more than just youth trap shooting? Youth rifle and archery teams also exists. Rifle is an Olympic sport but even more accessible is the co-ed NCAA DIV I Sport- but who knew? The U of MN has a range on campus- but who knew? The U of MN rifle team was a dominant team while it was active- but who knew? Change and grow that climate and you will see the outdoors grow along with it. The money spent by juniors in shooting sports helps the outdoors without them ever buying a hunting/fishing license!! 11% tax from ammo goes to the Pittman-Robertson Act, firearm/bow purchases also contribute to that. How about showing some support back to them through a campaign highlighting them and their sports and calming the 'anti-everything' public by showcasing and promoting the positive things our youth are doing. Most are afraid to talk about their hunting and shooting sports at school...why? Fear they will be bullied, or even expelled. Fix this and you will grow your conservation efforts.

    DustinClays asked 10 months ago

    Hello and thanks for sending some thoughts along!

    We are always interested in getting young folks outside, including participating in hunting and angling. There are so many benefits for people getting outside, especially young people. 

    We have a few programs to support hunting and angling (as well as other outdoor activities). The I-Can! programs help introduce kids to new outdoor activities, gain skills, and increase confidence to keep participating. The R3 (Recruit, Retain, Reactivate) programs help bring in new hunters and anglers of all ages. 

    Thanks again for writing in!

    Vanessa

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    In my view, user fees are always going to be insufficient in responding to the challenges of nurturing our environment. Caring for it is a fundamental responsibility of all of us, expressed through the regular budgeting of the State of Minnesota. User fees and licensing revenue should simply support, not dominate revenue sources. In the past few years where my lakeside cabin is located, I’ve been witness to the failure of the DNR to begin to take action with respect to shoreline requirements of the law, and I’ve been witness to a sharp decline in the fishery, itself. An adequately funded state government system, combined with appropriate law and regulation and enforcement would be a welcome advance. At this point, my experience of the DNR is that it’s staffed with great people who don’t begin to have the financial resource or appropriate law and regulation to assure we are properly caring for the environment. All of this is an essential responsibility of the State.

    MP asked 9 months ago

    Thanks for writing in and sharing your thoughts! I appreciate you thinking on the issue. 

    Vanessa

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    I am frustrated that wildlife managers at the MN DNR too often view hunters and trappers as their "clients" and ignore folks like me that enjoy wildlife in non-consumptive ways like bird watching. For that reason, I fully support reducing the state agency's dependence on hunter and trapper license fees. Would it be possible for the MN DNR to invite an additional optional fee to support non-consumptive wildlife programs when purchasing a state park permit or the like?

    ColletteAdkins asked 9 months ago

    Hello, 

    We have heard from lots of folks (including hunter, trappers, and anglers) who are interested in broadening the responsibility for support of conservation and outdoor recreation resources to a larger base. 

    Thanks for sharing the specific idea for the optional fee. I have captured the idea and will make sure it is part of discussions moving forward. 

    Vanessa

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    I don’t have specific ideas for how to do this, but is it possible to focus less on user groups and more on those who benefit? Wouldn’t the benefit groups be much larger than users?

    Jenni Runte asked 9 months ago

    Hello!

    Thanks for writing in. The distinction between "users" and "beneficiaries" is an interesting consideration. There are people who may not consider themselves "users" of outdoors, but certainly would benefit from clean air, water, and functional ecosystems, among other nature services. 

    Thanks for sharing! I will keep it mind discussions move forward.

    Vanessa

Page last updated: 30 Sep 2022, 08:29 AM