What is your favorite outdoor activity? (choose one)
- Hunting or fishing
- Hiking, biking, skiing, canoeing, etc.
- Nature observation (e.g. bird watching)
- Motorized sports (eg. boating, ATVing, snowmobiling, etc.)
- Driving for pleasure
- The indoors!
Outdoor recreation provides a variety of community benefits, but understanding which benefits you think are most important will help us manage parks and trails accordingly. Which benefits do you think are the most important to your community? (choose two)
- Livability of community
- Environmental protection
- Economic impact
- Healthy living
- Nature education
Even though there is more money for parks and trails because of the Legacy funds, there is still much more demand for funding than there is money available.
Minnesota has 4 systems: state parks, state trails, metro parks and trails, and greater MN regional parks and trails. Some parks and trails and their amenities have not yet been developed as planned, and some existing facilities are in need of major rehabilitation. Maintenance and operations budgets are shrinking at the same time once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to acquire land for parks and trails present themselves.
With this in mind, how should overall funding for parks and trails be prioritized? (choose one)
- Acquire land for parks & trails
- Complete existing parks and trails
- Develop new facilities & amenities
- Operations & maintenance
Of the total investments over 25 years, the majority of money should be spent on: (Note: numbers are an example only) (choose one)
- Large, signature investments ($15-20 Million/each)
- Mid-sized investments ($8-10Million/each)
- Small investments (<$5 Million/each)
The legislature has asked us to provide a plan for increasing participation in Minnesota’s state and regional parks and trails. Think about people you know who don’t use parks and trails – what do you think would encourage them to start using parks and trails? (choose two)
- Reduced fees
- Technology (e.g. geocaching & phone apps)
- Programs and special events (e.g. education, skill building)
- Focus on underrepresented groups
- On-site amenities (e.g. equipment rentals & flush toilets)
- Awareness & marketing
The legislature has asked us to create a plan for dealing with severe budget shortfalls, particularly for parks and trails with low usage. This means we may need to consider changes from scaling back maintenance to closing a park completely.
If it's necessary in the long term, what would you like to see happen? (choose two)
- Increase user fees
- Conduct minimal maintenance & no programming
- Open just for peak seasonal usage
- Management given to a local agency or nonprofit
- Close temporarily
- Sell the land
- Raise taxes
What do you think the main goals for parks and trails should be over the next 25 years? (choose two)
- Connected trails
- Increased recreational opportunities
- Protect natural resources
- Develop next generation of stewards
- Opportunities within minimal travel time
- Maximize economic impact
- Quality (e.g. nice features, well maintained)
How often do you participate in nature-based recreation?
- Once a week or more
- 1-2 times / month
- Several times a year
- A couple times a year
- Hardly ever
Which best describes the area where you live?
- Minneapolis / St. Paul
- Greater MN, regional center
- Greater MN, rural
It seems to me that people who live in the twin cities, like me, make great use of the park systems. The bike paths in particular often feel like they are close to capacity on the weekends. So it seems odd to hear that there is a push to get more people to use the system. Perhaps these are parks that are outside of the metro area and are therefore hard to get to without having to drive to them. If this is the case, I propose connecting more bike paths from the metro areas to the outlying suburbs and beyond. No one wants to have to strap their bikes onto their car and drive to a park in order to bike. I think we should be on the forefront of making bicycling a viable transportation alternative by extending our bike paths outward.
As President of the Northshore ATV Club our mission has been to promote responsible ATV'ing through the youth atv safety training program. We have a monthly ride usually on designated trail systems. We are finding crowded and over used trail systems. Providing more riding opportunities would greatly reduce impact and also keep atv's in areas that do not negatively affect non atv riders. ATV riders are the public too and should have public money used for our sport as well.
I think increased and more effective marketing is a substantial part of the answer. I personally have experienced the difference quality marketing and advertising can make in the success of a venture. I don't think the efforts of the DNR to date, with all due respect, have been nearly as powerful as they could be. I'd suggest the DNR partner with Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state's tourism marketing arm, as they have expertise and a contract with a top-shelf advertising agency.
I don't know how I feel about "increasing awareness and marketing" as the most appropriate way to compel non-users to visit parks. It seems to me like this has been the strategy for ages. If the legislature wants to get more non-traditional populations into parks, they need to maximize on what's popular right now, ie, technology. Add technology to the equation and all of a sudden things become much more interesting. Take phone apps, for example. Commercials tout about how their phone can identify restaurants and shops,etc...it's not like if people can't identify them on their own...it's just the fact that one can do it on a tiny phone in a fraction of a second that appeals to the individual and makes them so much more likely to visit said location. It seems to me like this concept could very well work with parks.
Also, a crucial option that was left out of question 5 was the facilitation of transportation. It's very easy for people of a certain demographic (namely those that compose surveys and are part of the discussion process) to forget that not everyone enjoys the same amenities. Amenity, in fact, is the perfect word because it is in fact the case that having a car is a luxury, rather than a necessity, for a significant portion of the population. For this population, travelling to parks and participating in parl-relating activities(hiking, camping) is virtually an impossibility). The need for some sort of coordination between public transportation systems and parks must be acknowledged if legislatures and the rest of those civically engaged in the process wish to welcome new visitors to parks.
I am amazed on how many local people have never visited the state park that is within 5 miles of their home and more than half of them, didn't even know it was right here. I'm referring to Ft. Snelling State Park. Oh they know that the fort itself is here, but didn't realize there's a nature/recreation park across the freeway. We really need to reach out and get the word out, about the parks and trails in a whole new way.
Opportunities and internships for students are needed for both giving valuable experience to our youth and capturing their energy and awareness.
The myriad health benefits of spending time in a natural environment (for instance, a park) are well documented, but not so well publicized. Depression, obesity and stress are all reduced by regular exposure to natural outdoor settings. Even in hospitals, patients got better faster in rooms with a view of a natural area vs. a building or wall.
The public needs to be made more aware of the health benefits of parks and the economic impact of health, or the lack of it, on their communities.
I find that many people do not know of the park and trail opportunities around them. I guess they are not on television, so they don't enter their awareness zone...