The public discourse is vast regarding threats to public lands – conservation, access, management, and more.

Safeguarding Minnesota’s public lands for sportsmen and women and other outdoors enthusiasts is at the core of a rally planned next week at the state Capitol.

The Minnesota chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, an outdoors advocacy group, has organized the Rally for Public Lands. The gathering begins at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Capitol’s rotunda.

This is the second year of the rally (last year's is shown above). “We hope it impacts policymakers ... that they see that there is broad support (for public lands) out there,” said Erik Jensen, vice-chairman of the local chapter, which has more than 1,000 members.

“We’re getting into the legislative session early, and we want to get a Legislature that is pro-public lands,” Jensen said.

Land Tawney, president and chief executive of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, will give the keynote at the rally. The Minnesota chapter is encouraging attendance from hunters, anglers, and anyone who uses and values public lands, Jensen added.

Minnesota has more than 12 million acres of public lands, from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, state parks, and wildlife refuges to the Superior and Chippewa national forests, and on. Plus, there is Minnesota’s mesh of more than 1,000 separate Wildlife Management Areas that cover a combined 1.3 million acres.

Public lands and other resources account for nearly $20 billion in consumer spending in Minnesota and support more than 100,000 jobs.

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