Mitigating Our Impact

ground-mounted photoboltaic installation at afton state park

We take seriously our contributions to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. We are investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency and will continue our good stewardship of public lands to limit and offset these emissions.

We need your help to adapt to the changing climate and reduce its impact on Minnesota's resources and people.

It is a goal of the state of Minnesota to reduce fossil fuel energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the state. As a large state agency charged with sustaining Minnesota’s natural resources, the DNR is committed to efforts to drive down energy use and associated emissions, and to explore opportunities to responsibly manage carbon on state lands.

Fleet Efficiency

dnr vehicle charging at a solar station

The DNR manages more than 5 million acres of land across the state, which requires a fleet of reliable vehicles to meet staff travel needs. To help reduce the associated environmental impact and fuel costs, the DNR has made efforts to upgrade and improve the energy efficiency of fleet vehicles.

Since 2005, the DNR has incorporated 165 hybrid sedans, eight plug-in hybrids, and two full electric vehicles. Average fuel economy for these vehicles exceeds 42 MPG. Electric off-road vehicles are in use at 21 DNR facilities across the state, largely for park and trail maintenance. Publicly available charging stations are located at the St. Paul Central Office, Tettegouche State Park and Fort Snelling State Park. Older, less efficient off-road vehicles are also being replaced with Tier 4 EPA certified vehicles, and all new trucks have diesel engines for better fuel economy.

With these fleet changes and additional vehicle use best practices, the DNR has achieved a fuel reduction from 2005 levels equivalent to about 275,000 gallons of gasoline.

Renewable and Energy Efficient Installations

picnic shelter at lake shetek state park. roof of the shelter is covered in solar panels

Renewable energy installations including photovoltaic arrays, solar thermal, and wind are increasingly common at Minnesota state parks and DNR office buildings. Since 2009, the DNR has installed 40 renewable systems at 31 locations across Minnesota. These systems generate more than 714,000 kilowatt hours of electrical power annually, helping the DNR meet state and agency-specific goals to reduce fossil fuel energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The DNR is improving energy efficiency by retrofitting and upgrading existing facilities and working toward net zero energy usage in new facilities. The DNR area office in Glenwood was designed to achieve the net-zero energy goal, winning the 2017 Best of B3 award from the state’s Sustainable Buildings 2030 program. Installation and design features include geothermal heating and cooling systems, a building orientation that maximizes solar energy gains, and a solar panel installation on the south side of the building, as well as additional air circulation, insulation, and plumbing considerations.

Pineland Sands Land Purchases

unconverted land with trees in the background and grasses in the foreground

North-central Minnesota is home to dry, sandy soils and a rare jack pine woodland ecosystem that provides important wildlife habitat. These pine woodlands have experienced rapid conversion to irrigated agricultural land to grow potatoes and other crops that do well in the sandy soils. Thousands of acres of these pine woodlands have been converted in recent years.

The DNR and other partners have worked to slow conversion of this important habitat by acquiring lands at highest risk of conversion. Since 2014, the DNR has acquired 900 acres in Hubbard County for the new Badoura Jack Pine Woodland Scientific and Natural Area and added 1500 acres to the Badoura and Huntersville state forests. Through a partnership with the Trust for Public Land, 700 acres were acquired for a new state wildlife management area in Wadena County. By protecting these natural lands from conversion to agriculture, we preserve their ability to trap and store carbon.

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