Conservation Agenda

Goal 2: Outdoor Recreation

Minnesota's outdoor recreation opportunities meet the needs of new and existing participants so all benefit from nature.


trend thumbnails Graphic showing hunting participation is down by 11 percent and fishing is down by 10 percent, comparing 2000 to 2012 Father and son camping graphic showing different activities for leisure time road needing repair

Click on photos above to learn more about each trend.

  1. Participation in traditional outdoor recreation is changing.
  2. Minnesota's population is aging and becoming increasingly urbanized and diverse.
  3. Competition for leisure time is increasing.
  4. Outdoor recreation infrastructure is outdated and deteriorating.

The Challenge

Outdoor recreation is a key to resource conservation and healthy living, but participation is declining in Minnesota and across the U.S. due to changing demographics, increasing urbanization, competing priorities and deteriorating infrastructure. Strategic investment in natural resource management and education is needed to reverse this trend and revitalize natural resource–based recreation for the benefit of present and future Minnesotans and the natural settings that inspire us and enrich our lives.

This page offers a quick overview of our plans to meet this goal. For more details, click below to learn more.

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To meet our goal of meeting the needs of new and existing outdoor recreation participants, we will:


The following actions are examples of how we will carry out these strategies.

Expand and promote "I Can!" programs

We will enhance Minnesotans' opportunity to explore new outdoor activities by increasing participation in "I Can Camp!", "I Can Fish!" and related programs.

Expand hunter recruitment and retention

We will expand hunter recruitment and education programs and increase efforts to engage youth and members of Minnesota's Hispanic community in hunting and shooting sports.

Increase user-friendly access to information

We will market Web-based outdoor recreation information tools such as "Fish Minnesota" and "ParkFinder," develop new tools and enhance the DNR's website.

Implement a new parks and trails system plan

We will invest in innovative facility designs, new technologies, and improvements to buildings, trails, lands and water access sites.

Participation in traditional outdoor recreation is changing

Outdoor recreation is changing with fewer young adults and families playing outdoors, hunting and fishing declining, and activities such as walking and geocaching on the rise.

Minnesota's population is aging and becoming increasingly urbanized and diverse

The population in Minnesota's metropolitan areas grew nearly 10 percent from 2000 to 2010, while nonmetro areas grew about 2.5 percent over this same period. The 65-and-older age group will be the fastest growing between 2010 and 2035.

Competition for leisure time is increasing

Shorter vacations and electronic entertainment are making it harder to find time for outdoor recreation. From 1985 to 2010, the average vacation length in the United States shrank from 5.4 to 3.8 days. In 2013, Americans ages 15 and older spent more than half of their leisure time watching television.

Outdoor recreation infrastructure is outdated and deteriorating

Outdoor recreation facilities and trails need updating to meet accessibility standards and address past wear and tear. Adequate maintenance and rehabilitation to the DNR's parks and trails infrastructure will cost more than $320 million over the next 10 years. More than 2,300 miles of state forest roads require regular maintenance for hunting, motorized recreation and other uses.