Upgrades to boat access areas and campgrounds and progress on trails are all priorities with recent funding increases.
Since the Minnesota Legislature saturated the Department of Natural Resources last month with what its commissioner called a “historic investment,” the agency is busy prioritizing projects across divisions.
Parks and Trails has a lot of plans for its share of $308 million in new operating money to the DNR. The division will have almost $23 million more in its operating budget over the next two years for basic operations. In addition, the Legislature passed one-time funding that means, for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, an additional $2 million for state trail maintenance; $9 million from watercraft registration fee increases for a list of ramp, dock and safety improvements; and $1 million for outdoor recreation for underserved communities.
Top of mind is long-needed work on water recreation across the state like improving boat ramps, extending and rehabbing state trails and upgrading campgrounds.
“There is a significant backlog in outdoor recreation infrastructure,” said Rachel Hopper, the division’s visitor services and outreach manager.