Minnesota to launch new Outdoor Recreation Task Force

December 12, 2019


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Explore Minnesota are partnering to launch a new Outdoor Recreation Task Force. The group will make recommendations about how Minnesota can connect more people to the health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation, improve equitable access to outdoor recreation, and better support the state’s thriving outdoor recreation economy.  The agencies are accepting applications to serve on the task force until Jan. 10.

There is mounting scientific evidence of the significant health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation. In addition, the impact of outdoor recreation to local, state and national economies is well-documented, as is the importance of Minnesota’s outdoor recreation opportunities as a key motivator for tourists to visit our state.

“Outdoor recreation provides substantial social, economic, and health-related benefits to Minnesotans,” said Governor Tim Walz. “This task force represents a ‘big-tent’ effort to bring together a community of leaders who will make recommendations to make sure Minnesota is second-to-none in outdoor recreation and economic opportunity.”

Around the country, 16 states have created offices or commissions on outdoor recreation as a way to collaborate across agency and organizational boundaries to expand the benefits of outdoor recreation for the economy, environmental stewardship, and quality of life. 

Minnesota’s task force will make its recommendations to the DNR and Explore Minnesota by next fall about what Minnesota can do to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities.

“Interest in outdoor recreation is growing nationally due to the many economic, public health, and social benefits outdoor activities and public lands bring to communities,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “New research shows what Minnesotans have always intuitively known: that life is better when you spend some time outdoors. We want to ensure that Minnesota welcomes all people—regardless of ability or background—to participate in that higher quality of life.” 

“Recreation in Minnesota, including outdoor activities, is a major sector of a $15.3 billion tourism economy in our state,” said Explore Minnesota Tourism Director John Edman. “We’re eager to collaborate with a diverse group of public, private, tribal and nonprofit organizations to engage more visitors with Minnesota’s outdoor recreation opportunities.”

The DNR and Explore Minnesota leadership will select 20 task force members to represent a diverse and balanced mix of outdoor interests, expertise and values. Interested individuals may complete the application form online on the DNR’s website at www.mndnr.gov/ORTF or print it out and return it to Attn: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Trails Division, Attn: Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Task Force, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155. Questions about the application process should be directed to the contacts on the webpage.

The following quotes are from Minnesota outdoor industry representatives.

Matt Gruhn, president, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (Minnesota-based trade organization)

"This represents a great moment for the State of Minnesota, by recognizing and giving a voice to the $9.6 billion economic impact of outdoor recreation and the more than 100,000 jobs it creates in the state. Led by boating and fishing, our robust outdoors industry is eager to join together to ensure Minnesota is leading the nation when it comes to supporting and growing our outdoor recreation system and economy.”

Greg Lais, executive director, Wilderness Inquiry

“From the tip of the Arrowhead to Blue Mounds State Park, Minnesota has always been an outdoors state. It is who we are. This new Outdoor Recreation Task Force will help to preserve that heritage for generations to come.”

Joe Henry, executive director, Lake of the Woods Tourism

"Minnesota is famous for its many world class outdoor recreation opportunities. The diversity and abundance of natural resources in the state combined with a strong network of resorts, outfitters and guides make Minnesota an attractive destination to many. The opportunity to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders and create win-win scenarios around outdoor recreation is exciting and has a real upside for so many around the state."

Clint Mueller, president, Community of Minnesota Resorts

“Minnesota’s investments in outdoor recreation are critical to tourism. Attracting visitors to enjoy our lakes and trails is a key component to our success - working to develop an integrated strategy with all of our tourism partners makes great sense.”