DNR Update: Volunteering Reminders, Planning Progress, and Free Park Day

An update from Arielle Courtney, DNR

It’s hard to believe it’s already June. Congratulations to all of us on surviving a very, very long winter! I hope many of you were able enjoy the snow, but now let us rejoice in the spring and summer weather we deserve after a long, cold journey. I have a couple of updates to share on our internal DNR process improvement work and a reminder about Free Park Day coming up on June 10.

Planning Process Update

We continue to move forward on our Friends group planning process. As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, we are working on developing a more organized model for working with Friends groups. This may end up looking like a consistent set of agreements that you support, clearer and more organized information about projects, events, volunteering, communication, and more. Our hope is that it will help us work more efficiently and effectively together.

Many of you have heard from your local DNR contacts that we are working on developing a “template MOU,” or an informal partnership agreement. We know this has been a point of frustration in the past and so we are working to improve the language so that it is more acceptable to groups. I think we are getting closer, so stay tuned for more information on that.

If you would like to meet with me to share ideas, concerns, or have questions on this – please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m available at 651-259-5609 or email at Arielle.courtney@state.mn.us.

Free Park Day on June 10

As most of you probably already know, Free Park Day is Saturday, June 10. You can find more information on our website. I know many groups are planning fun events and possibly volunteer work days. This is fabulous and we are so grateful for your help in making these free days memorable and meaningful to our visitors. Many people visiting on our free park days have never been to a state park before, or don’t visit enough throughout the year to make the purchase of an annual vehicle permit worthwhile. Therefore, the experience they have on free park day is critical to encouraging them to return and spread the word about our amazing state parks!

A couple reminders as you plan your activities:

  • Make sure any events you planned are in line with DNR rules and policies. If your event is large enough or involves bringing vendors or other volunteers in, please consult with your local DNR staff. If you do not want to apply for a special event permit, that may require you to provide insurance coverage, please work with your local DNR contact to ensure the events planned are hosted by the DNR and the Friends group is volunteering to support coordination of the event.
  • We have an “annual friends group volunteer agreement” that everyone should be using to cover your participation in DNR volunteer activities throughout the year. I’m happy to work with you and/or your local DNR contact to get you signed up this way.
  • Make sure your local DNR contact is aware of your plans well in advance so they can ensure all the necessary steps are followed to keep everyone safe and to guarantee a successful event.

If you have additional questions or concerns on this, please let me know. Thanks and have a wonderful June!

Thanks and be well,

Arielle Courtney



DNR Parks & Trails Partnership Development Consultant


Photo credit: Cynthia Vehe / 2022 P&TC Photo Contest