Minnesota River Valley Recreation and Conservation Master Plan

Brief history and background

The Minnesota River Valley in Renville and Redwood counties was carved into the landscape by the ancient River Warren. Today’s landscape was shaped by Native American communities, European immigrant settlers and others. The valley is widely recognized for its rich diversity of natural, cultural and historical resources which would greatly benefit from increased interpretation and conservation. The vision of this planning effort is a shared landscape that respects the cultural and agricultural heritage in the area while conserving unique and sensitive natural resources; all while providing increased recreational opportunities.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has worked with partners in the upper Minnesota River area since 2009 to identify conservation and recreation management concepts that will meet a variety of interests. Those interests include the changing needs of outdoor recreationists, quality wildlife habitat in the Minnesota River Valley area, and the many sensitive animals and plant communities. A key goal is to continue respecting private property rights while supporting diverse local economies and healthy human communities.

Citizens, local governments, and nonprofits work together to build a shared landscape approach to outdoor recreation and conservation in the valley. In 2013, The Minnesota River Valley Citizens' Advisory Committee report formalized a number of recommendations, including developing a plan for the area that involves local stakeholders.

In 2014, the legislature directed the DNR to develop a master plan in the 2014 MN Session Law, Chapter290-H.F. No.2852, Sec. 65.

View of Minnesota River from Skalbekken County Park

In 2017, the DNR collaborated with Renville and Redwood counties to complete a master plan for the area 2 miles either side of the Minnesota River.

Minnesota River from Skalbekken County Park

Valley view from Cedar Rock WMA looking east.

DNR and the counties formally adopted this master plan in 2018. Implementation strategies identified in the plan include exploring options for a new State Recreation Area (SRA) in the valley.

Valley view from Cedar Rock WMA looking east.


Background information

State Recreation Area (SRA) exploration

A survey to explore preferences for allowed recreation uses and preferred educational themes in a potential SRA was completed in fall 2018.

Survey report

MN River Valley State Recreation Area Exploration – Outdoor Recreation Preference Survey, 2018

Completed Master Plan

Recreation and Conservation Master Plan - Minnesota River ValleyDuring 2016 and 2017 four public workshops, numerous interviews and a public review of a draft master plan were held, resulting in the final version of the Master Plan.

Next steps

Now that the state and counties have approved the master plan, the next step is implementing strategies identified in the plan. An important first step towards building the vision created in the Master Plan is for the Counties and/or other interested partners to convene an advisory board for the project. Exploration by DNR and/or local partners around creating a State Recreation Area designation could add a tool to increase recreation opportunity and accessibility. Other designations through the counties can add importance and raise awareness for the project. Communities will need to secure project funding through a combination of state and local funds, and private contributions. Now the work begins as local communities join together, supported by various organizations and agencies, to bring the vision they created to realization. This will take some time and effort, but will reap benefits for many generations of local residents.

For more information, questions or comments about the DNR SRA exploration, please contact:

Scott W. Roemhildt
South Region Director

For more information, questions or comments about Redwood/Renville Counties Master Plan, please contact:

Redwood County Environmental Department

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 507-637-4023

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