In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Minnesota’s state water trails system, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging communities and outfitters to apply for grants to plan and implement special events throughout the state.
“Contrary to national declines in outdoor recreation participation, canoe and kayak registrations in Minnesota have continued to increase,” said Erik Wrede, state water trails program coordinator for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “In fact, kayak registrations increased 56 percent from 2008 to 2012. However, many canoe and kayak owners have either never heard of or do not know much about the Minnesota state water trails system. This anniversary is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness about the state water trails system and increase participation in water recreation.”
A total of $15,000 is available for the grants, which are new this year and made possible by funding from watercraft registration. Individual grant amounts will depend on the number and nature of the applications received. Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 20.
Eligible applicants include local units of government, nonprofit organizations and watercraft outfitters. Grant-funded events could include public canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding and boating events; and Adopt-a-River cleanups. Events must include an educational purpose, such as paddling safety, trip-planning skills and resources, stewardship or prevention of aquatic invasive species.
A working group of DNR’s citizen water trails advisory committee will review proposals and make funding recommendations to the DNR, which will announce funding decisions on Monday, June 3. The DNR will support grant recipients by providing materials to help them meet the outreach and education goals of their events.
For more information about the local grants, visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/grants/recreation/water_trails.html or call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Established in 1963, Minnesota’s state water trail system is the oldest and largest in the United States. State water trails are recreational routes on waterways that are managed by the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division for canoeing, kayaking, motor boating and camping. They include a network of public water accesses, campsites and rest areas. They thrive on the support of local units of government, paddling clubs, nonprofits and outfitters. Over the years, the system has expanded to include more than 4,500 miles along 32 rivers and Lake Superior.