The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has embarked on a significant financial journey, backed by a $149.9 million investment from Governor Tim Walz’s state budget.
As per a report, this funding, a part of the Get Out MORE (Modernize Outdoor Recreation Experiences) initiative, is set to be distributed over a span of five to six years, marking a substantial move towards enhancing the state’s outdoor recreation facilities.
DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, in a recent release, shared her excitement about the transformative projects included in this plan. Strommen emphasized the initiative’s focus on engaging people of all abilities and interests in Minnesota’s outdoor spaces.
A major portion of this investment, amounting to $55 million, is directed towards the state’s fish hatcheries.
The Waterville Hatchery is set to receive $24 million, Crystal Springs Hatchery $19 million, and the remaining $12 million will be distributed among other hatcheries. This funding aims to boost fish production, enhance staff safety, and improve water supply safety. Additionally, the DNR has allocated $5 million for the enhancement of shore fishing sites, indicating a strong commitment to fisheries and angling communities.
In a move to make outdoor spaces more inclusive and accessible, the DNR plans to invest over $35 million. This sum will be used to refresh recreation facilities, re-engineer roads and trails, and improve signage.
A significant $15 million will be dedicated to enhancing accessibility, with $9.4 million for road improvements, $8 million for trail development, $2 million for signage, and $1 million for adaptive equipment such as track chairs.
Boating enthusiasts can look forward to improved facilities as well, with another $35 million earmarked for updating more than 100 public water accesses. The majority of this fund, $30 million, will be channeled into 40-60 large-scale projects.
These projects will focus on improving accessibility, stormwater protection, preventing aquatic invasive species, promoting healthy shorelines, and installing ramps for nonmotorized boats. The remaining $5 million is allocated for smaller projects, including parking lot updates and stormwater treatment enhancements.
Stream restoration is also a key focus of the DNR’s plan, with $10 million dedicated to reconnecting about 63 miles of streams and restoring 43,000 feet of habitat. This initiative underscores the department’s commitment to environmental conservation and ecosystem restoration.
The camping experience in Minnesota is set for a modern overhaul with an investment of $9.5 million.
This funding will be used to update the camping infrastructure and experience at two popular state parks. Minneopa State Park will benefit from a $5 million pilot program aimed at building a campground with larger, accessible sites, modernized facilities, improved wayfinding, and trails. Myre-Big Island State Park will see a $4.5 million update to its wastewater infrastructure.
This substantial investment by the Minnesota DNR, supported by Governor Walz’s budget, is a clear indication of the state’s commitment to enhancing its outdoor recreation industry. The planned improvements are expected to not only boost the quality of outdoor experiences for residents and visitors but also contribute significantly to the state’s economy by attracting more tourists and outdoor enthusiasts. The Get Out MORE initiative is poised to transform Minnesota’s natural landscapes into more accessible, sustainable, and enjoyable spaces for all, reinforcing the state’s reputation as a premier destination for outdoor recreation.