• Arriving Minnesota settlers found 20 million acres of prairie and 32 million acres of pine forests. Today, despite conservation efforts rooted in the state's earliest days, less than 1 percent of prairies remain and forests have shrunk to about 18 million acres of mostly hardwoods.
  • Natural resource variations have forever shaped the lives and lifestyles of Minnesotans. Rich southwestern soils that today nurture corn crops, for example, centuries ago sustained the bison herds needed by Sioux Indians for food and clothing.
  • The benefits of time outdoors are many, but so, too, are the conclusions of study after study: We have a "nature deficit disorder" particularly among children in a modern life of tech gadgetry and overscheduling.
  • Minnesota is water-rich, from its 92,000 miles of rivers and storied 10,000 lakes, to Lake Superior and the Mighty Mississippi. Providing transport, sustenance and recreation, these aquatic environs support 1,000 species of fish — and more than 1 million anglers.
  • State climate experts expect to see trends observed years ago intensify: rising air temperatures and more extreme storms and rainfall, affecting the ecosystems of wildlife, forests and water. One noted result has been the expansion of vector-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus.
  • Fishing is almost unrivaled as an outdoor activity with about 1.4 million licensed anglers in Minnesota. Speaking of water, there were 825,658 registered boats in the state in 2018, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
  • 1950 was a turning point for Minnesota conservation. The Legislature authorized a $50,000 "Save the Wetlands'' program that year, and efforts to preserve the Boundary Waters gained momentum when floatplanes were banned from flying into the wilderness area.
  • Minnesotans helped lead the 1960s-era environmental movement and have enacted many laws to protect rivers, wetlands, the Boundary Waters and other resources. Voters' 2008 passage of the Legacy Amendment enshrines the state in the forefront of national conservation efforts.
  • More jobs in Minnesota depend on outdoor recreation (140,000) than hospital and health systems (121,000), according to a 2017 Outdoors Industry Association report. Minnesota's outdoors recreation economy has nearly $17 billion in spending each year, too.
  • Minnesota is uniquely blessed with four highly varied, naturally occurring biomes, or animal and plant communities inhabiting specific, major habitats. Included are deciduous forest, prairie grassland, tallgrass aspen parkland, and coniferous forest.
  • One of the more highly visited of the state's 75 parks and recreation areas is the mountain-biking rich Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Crosby, Minn.(178,706 visits in 2018).
  • Aquatic invasive species are rampant – bad news in a state whose identity is around its lakes. There are Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny waterflea and on. But the most-feared outbreak may be the zebra mussel, settled in hundreds of lakes and rivers – and more than half of the state's 10 big walleye lakes.
  • Summary: Minnesota's lakes, forests and other resources have forever formed the backbone of the state's identity and economy, and likely will forever.
  • Summary: Minnesotans' unmatched conservation record is being tested like never before by increasing human pressure on the state's natural resources, and by global warming.
  • Summary: Like in many other states, recreation is a way of life in Minnesota. But generational and economic factors are changing what we do, too.
  • Summary: Challenges are being met on multiple fronts, involving multiple sectors, with new knowledge and strategies. The question: Will the wider public get on board?