While much has been discussed and scrutinized in recent years about the declining interest of young people for hunting, fishing and other outdoors pursuits in Minnesota, the state said Monday there is positive news to report.
The Department of Natural Resources claimed in a news release that it continues “to make progress on its goals spanning many areas of conservation and outdoor recreation.” The agency pointed to the achievements in its 10-year Strategic Plan and an array of 87 performance measures whose progress can be tracked online on the DNR website. The areas include waters and watersheds, outdoor recreation, and fish and wildlife.
For example, the numbers of visitors to state parks and recreation areas is one of those markers. In the news release, the DNR noted “significant results” and said visits and overnighters have climbed 10 percent between 2015 and 2016 to 10.3 million visits.
The DNR also said more than 51,000 students took safety courses in areas like gun safety and snowmobile use in 2016, an increase of 19 percent from 2015.
While hunting and fishing aren’t mentioned in Monday’s news release, they are two topics woven into the DNR’s strategic plan. Special youth hunts and seasons are one way the state is trying to preserve participation. In 2016, the number of participants (5,208) exceeded the state’s goal (4,500) by more than 15 percent.
Despite lagging interest in fishing seen in young people between ages 16 and 24, the DNR reported this summer that fishing license sales were steady and that the 2017 season was roughly on par with year-to-date figures in the last few years. The number of licensed Minnesota anglers has hovered steadily at about 1.1 million each year since 2000, according to the DNR.