The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Explore Minnesota have named members to the new Outdoor Recreation Task Force. The 20-person task force, which is set to meet via WebEx for the first time on April 28 to begin discussing the state of outdoor recreation in Minnesota, represents a broad swath of outdoor recreation interests in the state.
“Engaging this group of individuals is truly a unique opportunity for collaboration,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “I am confident that this group is ready to think creatively and develop ideas that will ensure Minnesota continues to be a national leader in outdoor recreation.”
The DNR and Explore Minnesota, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, selected task force members out of a pool of 140 applicants. Staff and agency representatives reviewed applications and considered the needs of the task force through several lenses, including the variety of interests that are directly or indirectly related to outdoor recreation, such as nonmotorized and motorized outdoor activities, economic development and tourism, health, education, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Other selection factors included type of outdoor organizations, such as nonprofits, manufacturing, retail, advocacy, and volunteer-run groups in addition to diversity in race and ethnicity, gender, age, and geography.
“I think the team assembled here is robust and represents a wide variety of industries, organizations, and perspectives that we need to continue elevating Minnesota’s outdoors as a national and international destination,” said Explore Minnesota director John Edman. “Now more than ever, our great outdoors are vital to the well-being of Minnesotans and we hope this group will delve into how we can meet those demands.”
The first meeting is scheduled for April 28, via WebEx with an opportunity for the public to observe and send questions or comments. Meetings will continue remotely until risks of COVID-19 have dissipated, after which the task force will meet in-person meetings, with the public welcome to attend.
Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Task Force Members
- Reinaldo Aponte, adventures director, The Loppet Foundation.
- Mary Bauer, registered nurse, VA Medical Center, representative of the Minnesota Canoe Association and Minnesota Ski League.
- Steven JR Burke, director of government affairs, Polaris.
- Elliot Christensen, tobacco prevention coordinator, Lower Sioux Indian Community.
- Megan Christianson, executive director, Visit Grand Rapids.
- Katy Friesz, corporate responsibility, Winnebago Industries.
- Matt Gruhn, president, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.
- Aaron Hautala, Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew.
- Breanne Hegg, vice president, programs for Girl Scouts River Valleys.
- Joe Henry, executive director, Lake of the Woods Tourism.
- Hansi Johnson, director, Recreational Lands for Minnesota Land Trust.
- Greg Lais, founder, director, strategic initiatives, Wilderness Inquiry.
- Perry May, director at large, All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota.
- Sarah Milligan-Toffler, executive director, Children and Nature Network.
- Mark Norquist, founder, Modern Carnivore.
- Stephen Regenold, founder and publisher, GearJunkie.com.
- Mollika Sajady, DO, MPH, University of Minnesota Health.
- Naomi Sam, coordinator and director, Cultural Resources for the Mille Lacs Band DNR.
- Asha Shoffner, founder, Fiwygin Outdoors.
- Steven Voltz, store manager, REI Roseville.