Minnesota State Parks and Trails
System Plan

The Division of Parks and Trails has developed a system plan to advance new approaches for managing the DNR's state parks, state recreation areas, state trails, state forest recreation areas, and state water recreation system.  The plan, originally approved in 2015, was updated in 2019.

The system plan describes investment groups that categorize state parks, state recreation areas, state trails and forest recreation areas which will help guide what kinds of experiences and levels of service the DNR provides at these locations.  Over time the units in each investment groups may change.  For example new state parks or SRAs may be created, new segments of state trail are authorized or are developed, or amenities at a forest recreation area may be change.  The DNR will update the investment groups to reflect these changes.  Please refer to the documents below for the most current investment group lists and maps for state parks and state recreation areas, state trails, and forest recreation areas.

Implementation of this plan will result in:

  • Future investments focused on Minnesota's most important natural resources and highest quality recreation opportunities.
  • Delivery of staff time/resources and focused pursuit of new opportunities.
  • Transparency about priorities with the Legislature and other stakeholders.
  • More effective collaboration with our partners.
  • Measureable improvements that advance Better Government.


The system plan is an outgrowth of work completed by the State Parks and Trails Future Strategies Committee. The committee recommended the Division "move toward a more differentiated system that favors quality of facilities and opportunities over quantity or geographic distribution."

Four workgroups, comprised of DNR staff, were organized to focus on major components of the Division's administrative and operational responsibilities:

  • State Parks and State Recreation Areas
  • State Trails
  • State Forest Recreation Areas
  • Water Recreation

The workgroups were guided by previous strategic planning efforts including the Parks and Trails Legacy Plan (2011), and the Division of Parks and Trails Strategic Plan (2012). Each workgroup developed criteria for investing limited financial resources and staff, and used the criteria to develop investment groups that will help guide decisions for the next ten years.

The system plan is based on materials developed over the course of 18 months by these four workgroups, as well as feedback from staff and stakeholders.  The plan was finalized and approved in August 2015.

In 2018, the Division developed additional guidance for staff implementing the system plan.  The system plan was revised in 2019 to reflect changes, primarily to the state trails section, that came out of that process.


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