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DNR renews push for funding to upgrade parks and trails

Oct 05, 2022 10:04AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Tim Mossholder 

By Danny Spewak - KARE 11 News - October 5, 2022

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is renewing its push for state funding to upgrade decades-old trails, campgrounds and fish hatcheries, among other areas. 

On Tuesday, Minnesota DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen published an op-ed outlining her agency's $318.6 million proposal, known as "Get Out MORE." The DNR asked for this state funding last session, but lawmakers adjourned without a deal on a number of important issues. 

"As folks know, we had a large surplus in Minnesota. We thought it was a good opportunity with one-time dollars to invest in one-time investments -- a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in outdoor infrastructure," Strommen said in an interview. "With the legislature not acting on that last session, we'll be looking to next session to make the case, again."

It all depends on the November elections, of course, since the balance of power in the governor's office and state legislature could change by the time the next legislative session begins in January 2023.

But without the funding, Strommen argued, outdoor recreation in Minnesota could take a hit. 

"With that funding, we could make upgrades to our state park trails and campgrounds, many of which were built 60 to 90 years ago," she wrote in her op-ed. "We could improve public water accesses with longer launch ramps, more parking, aquatic invasive species boat cleaning areas, and enhanced accessibility."

She expanded on those sentiments further in an interview with KARE 11, pointing specifically to the fish hatcheries, which she said are pushing 70 years old.

"We're living on technology and infrastructure that really just isn't meeting the modern needs," Strommen said. "The issues we have to manage on the management side, including aquatic invasive species, changes in climate... we really need our infrastructure to keep up with those changes in management."

It should be noted that 2023 is a budget year at the Minnesota State Capitol -- and how to spend surplus dollars will remain a fierce topic of debate. 

To read this original story and more news, follow this link to the KARE 11 News website.

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