Group of supporters in representatives office
October 30, 2019

Best ways to help your state park or trail this season

An update from Arielle Courtney, DNR

Fall colors are all but finished and while we consider this the end of our “busy” season in state park and trails, our work is far from over! And there is plenty still to do to make sure buildings, campgrounds, trails, and the park’s natural and cultural resources are well-maintained and protected for generations to come.

We are so appreciative of the role friends groups play in contributing to the longevity and vitality of our state parks and trails. We couldn’t do it without you! The needs are ongoing, so we need your help even throughout the winter months. Take a look at the below table to see where DNR parks and trails supervisors need the most help from friends groups.

Where could you use the most help from a friends group?%
Advocate for unit needs (e.g. development or operations/maintenance funding)42.4%
Organize volunteers21.2%
Natural resource work (e.g. invasive species removal, trash clean-up, plantings, etc.)12.1%
Providing educational programs9.1%
Fundraising for the unit9.1%
Planning special events3.0%
Promotion and communication about the unit-

As you can see, help is needed in almost all of these areas, but the top three include: advocacy for unit needs, help organizing volunteers, and natural resource work. While some natural resource work is specific to warmer weather seasons, there is much opportunity get going on these other areas of need in the winter when staff have more time! You’ve probably noticed DNR staff are very busy and often are short on time, but this is slightly improved in the off-season and is a great opportunity for you to sit down with your park or trail supervisor to discuss what needs they have for the upcoming year. We will be sending more information out about annual project and goal planning in the coming months as part of the regional meeting workshop follow-up, but start thinking about setting aside some time now.

Supervisors mentioned that it was hard to pick just one area of need, because help is needed across the board. However, the reason advocacy came out on top is because decision-makers listen to the voices of friends groups and visitors like you! We can’t make progress on projects large or small without your support. Secondly, volunteers are always extremely helpful whether it is organizing educational programs or pulling buckthorn. However, staff are often constrained in their capacity to oversee and recruit volunteers, so having friends groups help with this task is extremely beneficial. Similarly, with the increase in invasive species (for example), there is always more natural resource work to do. Helping to keep trails clear or assisting in a trash pick-up are appreciated efforts that will always be in demand.

woman carrying sticks in DNR hard hat

Of course, before you start planning events or coordinated efforts around any of these topics, make sure to connect with your park or trail supervisors or liaison to make sure everyone is on the same page and you have the proper information, supplies, or equipment needed to help.

Thanks for considering our “wish list” and we hope you have a very happy November and get the chance to celebrate #freeparkfriday at one of our state parks on November 29. We’d love to see you out there!

As always, if you have questions or topics you would like me to cover in this section, don’t hesitate to contact me at 651-259-5609 or

Happy trails,


Partnership Development Consultant

Minnesota DNR, Parks & Trails Division

About Ashley Pethan