Icebergs on the banks of the St. Louis River
March 4, 2020

Spring Changes for DNR Parks and Trails

An update from Arielle Courtney, DNR

park naturalist shows kids how to tap a tree for maple syrup

Kao Thao, park naturalist, showing kids how to tap a tree to collect sap for maple syrup

First of all, congratulations to everyone for making it to March! I hope you enjoyed wonderful wintry outdoor activities and are now rejoicing in the upcoming spring season. As the days warm up, consider celebrating this seasonal change by attending or volunteering at one of our great maple syrup programs.

Spring Changes

My family is expecting our first child in April, so I will be on parental leave until about September. We are very excited to spend some time outside with our daughter this summer and are boldly planning her first camper cabin overnight in August (cross your fingers for us!). If you have questions about statewide state parks and trails friends group questions that are DNR-related in the meantime, the following people and resources should be helpful.

2020 Friends Group Workshops

DNR Parks and Recreation Area Consultant Jamie McBride will be assisting Parks & Trails Council with preparations for the 2020 Friends Group Workshops. Your main point of contact for the workshops is Ashley Pethan with P&TC, but if you have a question or an issue of statewide relevance that you think DNR should discuss at the workshops, you can reach him at or 651-259-5844.

Guidance on DNR Processes for Friends Groups

Prior to my leave, I will be sending out the first version of a “DNR Parks and Trails Friends Group Handbook.” Some of you will have heard about this before, but it will be a handy tool for local DNR staff to use in partnership with their friends members to do the following:

  1. Understand how to start a new friends group, with reference to Parks & Trails Council information and resources
  2. Understand what paperwork and processes are required by the DNR and why
  3. Learn more about DNR goals for parks and trails and how friends groups can plug into these efforts

This handbook will hopefully offer some clarity on our processes and make things a little less complicated and confusing. The document is expected to evolve as well, so if you have ideas for improvement once it is distributed, we will certainly incorporate those into a future version.

E-news Updates

This column will be taken over by a few of my very talented and passionate colleagues while I’m out! I would tell you who they are and what they plan to discuss, but that will ruin the surprise. Stay tuned for interesting tidbits and news from other DNR staff this summer.

As I know you all do already, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local DNR contact for additional questions and guidance. Thanks and see you outside!

Happy trails,

Partnership Development Consultant

Minnesota DNR, Parks & Trails Division

About Ashley Pethan