Minnesota’s natural resource professional workforce is much less diverse than its citizenry and many other professional fields. The benefits of a more diverse workforce are many, including the ability of organizations to increase innovation and creativity, attract higher qualified candidate pools, and ensure services that meet the diverse interests and needs of all citizens.
After years of discussions, some of the most diverse riparian, mesic, and dry hillside native prairie containing the only identified remnant population of Prairie Bush Clover in Martin County is available for permanent protection. Martin County is using this appropriation to acquire and permanently protect approximately 40 acres, including 10 acres of remnant prairie. The land will be turned into a county park providing recreational opportunities for local residents and educational opportunities for area students.
Running through the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota, the Mesabi Trail provides a recreational and alternate transportation corridor for hikers, bikers, skiers, and horseback riders, as well as some designated snow snowmobile use areas. When completed the trail will include 145 paved miles extending from the Mississippi River in Grand Rapids to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Ely – 115 miles have been finished to date. The St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority are using this appropriation to develop 11 miles of trail segments near Vermilion State Park.
The Twin Cities area is host to a nationally renowned system of regional parks and trails that provides numerous outdoor recreational opportunities for the public while preserving green space for wildlife habitat and other natural resource benefits. Currently the regional parks and trails system consists of 51 parks and park reserves containing more than 54,000 acres, more than 300 miles of interconnected trails, and has more than 46 million visits each year.
Morton, Minnesota is home to many unique natural, cultural, and historic sites, including sites from the US-Dakota War and some of the oldest exposed rock, called Morton Gneiss, on the planet. The City of Morton is using this appropriation to develop a municipal site along the Minnesota River in Morton to be converted into a public canoe landing and campground and a trail connection between the Minnesota River State Water Tail and natural and cultural sites in the area including the Morton Outcrop Scientific and Natural Area.
Minnesota’s Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA) Program is an effort to preserve and perpetuate the state’s ecological diversity and ensure that no single rare feature is lost from any region of the state. This includes landforms, fossil remains, plant and animal communities, rare and endangered species, and other unique biotic or geological features. These sites play an important role in scientific study, public education, and outdoor recreation.
The St. Croix River is one of the most pristine, large river ecosystems remaining in the upper Mississippi River System. Washington County, in partnership with the City of Stillwater, is using this appropriation to acquire 15 acres containing 3,500 feet of St. Croix River shoreline just north of downtown Stillwater and parallel to the Brown’s Creek State Trail. The land will be turned into a local nature park for trail users, river users, tourists, and area residents with passive recreation including fishing, boat launching, walking, and picnicking.
There has been a sharp decline in participation in outdoor recreation and education amongst youth, particularly in urban areas. Some argue that youth who have meaningful outdoor education experiences are more likely to become engaged in environmental stewardship and invested in outdoor resources as adults.