Minnesota DNR announces $35M investment in boat access

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has said it has identified more than 40 public water access sites throughout the state for extensive upgrades; smaller-scale improvements to more than 75 additional accesses are also anticipated.

The work is part of the Get Out MORE (Modernize Outdoor Recreation Experiences) investments approved by the legislature and signed by Governor Tim Walz in 2023.

The sites identified for extensive upgrades span Minnesota, from Lake of the Woods in the north to Rice Lake in the south and many points in-between. Examples of typical projects include Whaletail Lake in Hennepin County, where stormwater management will be improved, an accessible parking space added, and the aquatic invasive species (AIS) inspection and cleaning area enhanced; and Lake Carlos in Douglas County, where a second boat ramp will be added along with an AIS cleaning area, stormwater management, and accessible parking.

A map and list of the major project sites can be found on the “modernizing boating access” segment of the Get Out MORE webpage of the DNR website.

“Time on the water is a cherished activity for so many Minnesotans and visitors to our state, and we take pride that Minnesota DNR is a leader in providing access to those waters. We also know that our public water accesses need significant investment,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “I’m excited for Minnesotans to start seeing upgrades in the coming months and years as a result of these investments and our commitment to ensuring people of all abilities and interests can enjoy our waters.”

The DNR manages about 1,700 public water accesses, and typically has enough funding to complete large-scale upgrades to only a few sites each year. However, many of the state’s public accesses currently do not meet the needs of today’s users. The Get Out MORE initiative is providing a significant boost in the DNR’s ability to address these needs, and will be coordinated with ongoing baseline investments to ensure the efficient use of all funds. Of the $149.9 million Get Out MORE investments, $35 million will go toward modernizing boating access, including:

  • $30 million for large-scale projects, which will include accessible features, stormwater improvements, enhanced facilities for aquatic invasive species prevention, restoration to improve shoreline health and accessible ramps for non-motorized boats.
  • $5 million for small-scale projects, including longer launch ramps, wider drive lanes, wider and longer parking stalls and improved stormwater treatment.

“We’re making critical investments throughout Minnesota,” Parks and Trails Division Director Ann Pierce said. “These projects are essential to making Minnesota waters accessible to all users, meeting the needs of modern watercraft, protecting our public waters from stormwater runoff and invasive species, and enhancing climate resilience.”

The one-time Get Out MORE investments center on five key areas:

  • Enhancing fisheries and fishing infrastructure ($60 million)
  • Enhancing access and welcoming new users to public lands and outdoor recreation facilities ($35.4 million)
  • Modernizing boating access ($35 million)
  • Restoring streams and modernizing water-related infrastructure to support outdoor recreation ($10 million)
  • Modernizing camping and related infrastructure ($9.5 million).

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