Achievements include significant progress in conservation and natural resources management, connecting more people to the outdoors, and climate adaptation and mitigation
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released a summary of some of its major accomplishments in 2022. From major milestones in habitat restoration that were decades in the making, to climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, to ensuring Minnesota’s unparalleled outdoor opportunities are accessible to more people, the DNR made significant progress on the goals and priorities in its strategic plan.
“I am deeply proud of all that my colleagues at the DNR accomplished this year alongside our partners and the Minnesotans we work with and serve,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said. “We’ve made incredible progress this year and witnessed our collective efforts pay off with inspiring conservation successes. Our natural places are critical to the health of our environment, economy, and people, and key to what make this state an incredible place to live. I look forward to what the DNR and its partners can do together in the coming year and beyond.”
Among the many conservation and habitat restoration successes in 2022 is the first verified lake sturgeon spawning event in the Red River Basin in more than 100 years. In 1997 the Minnesota DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, White Earth Nation, Red Lake DNR, Rainy River First Nations, North Dakota Game and Fish Department and Canadian partner agencies began reintroducing lake sturgeon, which had been extirpated by overfishing, habitat fragmentation, and declines in habitat quality. The spawning event marks a major milestone as the DNR and partner agencies work toward the final restoration goal of reestablishing self-sustaining lake sturgeon populations in the Red River Basin.
Within the St. Louis River Area of Concern, located in and around the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin, habitat restoration projects led to the removal of an impairment designation related to the health of fish and wildlife populations. Successfully addressing this impairment involved collaboration with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Wisconsin DNR and significant engagement with stakeholders and the public.
In the area of connecting more people to the outdoors, the DNR made a number of improvements to Minnesota’s outdoor recreation assets to better represent and serve people of different cultural perspectives and abilities. Updates to the Gitchi-Gami State Trail, Shipwreck Creek Campground, and Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area all include new accessible features. All-terrain track chairs are also now available at five state parks. St. Croix State Park features a new exhibit that was developed in collaboration with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and others to incorporate more inclusive stories. The exhibit is also designed to be accessible to people with cognitive, physical, visual and hearing disabilities.
The DNR also contributed data and expertise to complete the Minnesota Climate Action Framework, which was released in 2022. The Framework includes strategies for how we can collectively manage natural and working lands to address climate change by absorbing and storing carbon, reducing emissions, and sustaining resilient landscapes.
The successes identified above and larger list available online highlight key accomplishments in several priority areas outlined in the DNR’s strategic plan: address critical natural resource issues proactively; connect people to the outdoors; expand diversity, equity and inclusion; mitigate and adapt to climate change; manage natural resources responsibility for economic and community benefit; and ensure the DNR’s financial vitality. These examples illustrate some of the many ways in which the DNR works with Minnesotans to fulfill the agency’s mission.
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