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Minnesota Agencies

Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Parks and Recreation Division

Active dates:1967-

The Parks and Recreation Division is responsible for planning, developing, operating, and maintaining Minnesota’s state park system. The division administers the state park system which has grown to 64 state parks and numerous waysides and more than 1,000 miles of trails. It is responsible for state park land acquisition, development, maintenance, and operation. Other activities include overall park planning; investigation of areas for potential parks, recreation areas, and scientific and natural areas; provision of visitor services; enforcement of rules and regulations; and cooperation with county and local authorities. The division is under the immediate charge of a director, who is appointed by the commissioner of natural resources and is subject to the supervision and control of the commissioner.


The State Parks Division was created by the legislature in 1935 (Laws 1935, chapter 340), although the state park system in Minnesota dates to 1889 when Camp Release in Yellow Medicine County was established as a memorial park (Laws 1889, chapter 281). Prior to 1925, all state parks, with the exception of Itasca and Sibley, had been under the supervision of the state auditor, Itasca having been under the jurisdiction of the Department of Forestry and Sibley under the game and fish commissioner. From 1925 to 1931 the parks were administered by the Conservation Commission. Under the law that created the Department of Conservation (Laws 1931, chapter 186, state parks were administered by the Division of Forestry until a separate division was created in 1935.

During the 1930s much of the development of the park system was done through relief programs. During the 1940s, insufficient funds were available for adequate maintenance or for development, so in 1953 the legislature passed the State Park Sticker Act (Laws 1953, chapter 470) to obtain revenue for the Division of State Parks by levying a use fee. By 1967 the division had the responsibility of developing and promoting a statewide trail system for hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, and snowmobiling. In that year, the legislature changed the division's name to the Parks and Recreation Division. When the Conservation Department became the Department of Natural Resources in 1970, the Parks and Recreation Division remained unchanged.

Agency heads:

Directors: Harold W. Lathrop, 1935-1946; Lew Elton Fiero, 1946-1953; U.W. Hella, 1953-1973; Don D. Davison, 1973-

Record last updated: 03/20/2018

All information on this group from the Library’s collection of agency notebooks has been digitized. These materials are incorporated into the “documents/articles” section of the record. Please contact a librarian with any questions. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.

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