“Acquiring Land and Creating Opportunities - A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘create new and expanded park and trail opportunities to satisfy current customers as well as to reach out to new ones’.
The DNR is working with local communities and an interagency team to define, prioritize, and establish groundwater management areas in Minnesota. Groundwater management areas will have increased data collection and monitoring that allow the state and local communities to understand water supplies, uses, limitations, and threats to natural resources that depend on groundwater. This information will support detailed aquifer protection plans that ensure equitable and sustainable groundwater and drinking water use for the future.
Governor Mark Dayton's landmark buffer initiative was signed into law in 2015. The law establishes new perennial vegetation buffers of up to 50 feet along rivers, streams, and ditches that will help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment. The new law provides flexibility and financial support for landowners to install and maintain buffers.
The DNR's role in Minnesota's new buffer law is to produce a statewide map of public waters and public ditches that require permanent vegetation buffers. The DNR is scheduled to produce these maps by July 2016.
“Connecting People to the Outdoors- A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘better develop Minnesota’s stewards of tomorrow through efforts to increase life-long participation in parks and trails.’
“Coordinating with Partners- A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan identifies its purpose to ‘enhance coordination across the large and complex network of public, private, and non-profit partners that support Minnesota’s parks and trails to ensure seamless, enjoyable park and trail experiences for Minnesotans.’
The DNR works with the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) to convey valuable geologic and groundwater information and interpretations to government units at all levels, but particularly to local governments, private organizations and citizens.
This program provides critical assistance to MN DNR Parks and Trails Division Regional and District offices to assist with renewal and rehabilitation efforts prioritized locally by field staff. Projects include the following types: State Park Building and Facilities Emergency Repair and Maintenance, Paved Trail Maintenance and Asset Preservation, and State Park and State Forest Trail Renewal. This project is a newly reorganized budget area that consolidates these three smaller project areas reported on in previous years.
The Division of Parks and Trails is creating innovative programs to attract new audiences, particularly young families, to Minnesota state parks and trails. Skill-building programs, such as "I Can Camp!," provide a trial opportunity by eliminating the barriers of needing to have pre-existing knowledge or gear for the activity. Special events, such as National Get Outdoors Day, generate enthusiasm and a sense of urgency to visit. Gateway programs introduce visitors to a host of outdoor pursuits, including those offered by other divisions of the Minnesota DNR.
The DNR works with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health to determine the level of contamination from mercury and other harmful chemicals in fish from Minnesota's lakes and rivers and to track the success of efforts to reduce mercury pollution. Clean Water Legacy funding is being used to significantly increase (more than double) the number of lakes and rivers that are assessed for mercury contamination on an annual basis. Fish are collected during DNR fishery surveys, processed for laboratory testing, and analyzed for contaminants.
This on-going program is for detecting, mapping and controlling invasive plant species and re-establishing native vegetation in their place on lands administered by the Division of Parks and Trails. Control of invasive plant species furthers progress to preserve and restore the quality of native plant communities on Parks and Trails lands as well as helps prevent the spread of invasives to new locations.
The Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a tool that can identify water pollution problems based on the type and abundance of selected plants or animals. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) uses IBIs for fish and macroinvertebrates (stream-dwelling insects and other critters) in streams to help determine whether these waterways are impacted by water pollution. The DNR has developed a similar tool for fish in lakes and is developing a tool for aquatic plants. Both are used to help the MPCA identify lakes that may be impacted by water pollution.
This Phase 5 request for Ducks Unlimited's Living Lakes program will enhance 2,000 acres of shallow lakes and restore 50 acres of small wetlands by engineering and installing water control structures for Minnesota DNR and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on public lands and wetlands under easement. Structures will be used by DNR and Service partners to restore wetland hydrology and actively manage shallow lake water levels to enhance their ecology for ducks, other birds, and hunters in the Prairie Region of Minnesota.
“Maintaining Existing Holdings - A Parks and Trails Strategic Objective” is a program area representing DNR’s commitment to one of the four pillars identified in the 25 year Legacy plan. The Legacy plan calls this ‘Take Care of What We Have,’ and identifies its purpose to ‘provide safe, high-quality park and trail experiences by regular re-investment in park and trail infrastructure, and natural resource management.’
Legacy funds allow the Minnesota Zoo to extend the season of the Wells Fargo Family Farm beyond its historical May to September season to include full programming and exhibits from April through November.
There are 67 Minnesota State Parks and 7 Minnesota State Recreation areas that each have facilities to serve outdoor recreation users. Funds in this category are used for developing new facilities and include visitor centers, trail centers, roads, parking lots, bridges, campgrounds, and so on.
New State Trail development to complete key missing trail segments or to fulfill funding gaps in trail development projects. Potetial development to include multi-use trail, trail parking areas, trail waysides, or trail bridges. New trail development includes all associated engineering, design and construction, and is to incorporate current Best Management Practices.
This project works with local partners that implement conservation project to provide learning opportunities, technical help, and grants that result in cleaner water through healthier watersheds and shorelands. The DNR's natural resource experts help prioritize conservation areas and target project locations so they improve water quality while providing habitat and other benefits. Stream experts provide designs for stream projects that provide long-term stability by using natural features.
The Division of Parks and Trails is engaged in critical work to connect people to the outdoors. As part of the work in this project area, the new touch-screen kiosk project will increase awareness about outdoor recreation opportunities at Minnesota state parks and trails among underrepresented groups by creating and installing accessible, touch-screen kiosks with information in multiple languages, in high-traffic, family-oriented locations.
The 17 member Park and Trail Legacy Advisory Committee is appointed by the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, the Chair of the Metropolitan Council and the Chair of the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. The mission of the committee is to champion the 25 year "Parks and Trails Legacy Plan" by providing recommendations to enhance promotion, coordination, and accountability throughout implementation of the plan.
To provide grants to local units of government to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance outside of the seven county metropolitan area. Funding for this grant program is from the Parks and Trails Fund created by the Minnesota Legislature from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by the voters in 2008.
Renewal of existing State Trail surfaces, parking areas, and trail wayside areas, improving accessibility, enhancing user safety and implementing current best management practices. MNDNR Parks and Trails Division has a identified approximately 85 miles of existing state trail in need of rehabilitation and upgrading. This program also focuses on the rehabilitation or replacement of existing state trail bridges, including structural engineering inspections of all trail bridges .
This Phase 6 request for Ducks Unlimited's land protection and restoration program will acquire and restore 600 acres of prairie land on shallow lakes and prairie land with restorable wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region of SW Minnesota for transfer to the Minnesota DNR for inclusion in the state Wildlife Management Area system. This land acquisition and restoration work will focus on land that buffers shallow lakes and provides breeding habitat for ducks and other prairie wildlife.