Conservation agenda

Goal 3: Natural Resources Economy

Minnesota's natural resources contribute to strong and sustainable job markets, economies and communities.


trend thumbnails groundwater invasives grassland birds

Click on photos above to learn more about each trend.

  1. The forest products industry is changing.
  2. Demand for mineral development is increasing.
  3. Revenue from school trust land is increasing.
  4. Fish and wildlife recreation spending continues to grow the state's economy.

The Challenge

Sustainable use of natural resources provides funds needed to maintain forests, lakes and lands. It also is a key contributor to Minnesota's economy, with forestry and mining creating more than 73,000 jobs and travel and tourism contributing $12.5 billion in annual sales. Today's global economy, however, is changing both supply and demand and challenging us to find new ways to tap natural resources' income-generating potential. Done right, natural resource–based economic development can help Minnesota maintain a competitive edge as a top place to live, work and play.


This page offers a quick overview of our plans to meet this goal. For more details, click below to learn more.

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To meet our goal of contributing to strong and sustainable job markets, economies and communities, we will:


The following actions are examples of how we will carry out these strategies.

Encourage emerging forest industries

We will provide sustainable access to 800,000 cords of third-party-certified wood annually and promote the development of bioenergy.

Advance mining technologies and strategies that protect the environment

We will encourage environmentally sound mining, improve reclamation technologies and boost financial assurance for environmental protection.

Enhance and expand nature-based tourism

We will accommodate emerging recreation interests, acquire private land in state parks, and connect state trails to cities and parks.

Improve groundwater and surface water systems

We will install 6,000+ monitoring wells, improve data management and provide more accurate water use information.

The forest products industry is changing

The forest products industry is changing with recent reduced demand for conventional products and a decline in annual harvest. The 2007-2011 recession reduced forest products demand, timber harvest and economic activity. Reduced harvest has limited foresters' ability to manage diverse, healthy forests for recreation, forest products, habitat and other goals. The DNR helps maintain traditional paper and wood markets and promotes emerging wood-based, bio-based chemical and fiber opportunities.

Demand for mineral development is increasing

Mineral development demand is increasing as global markets grow for precious metals and silica sand. While iron ore production in Minnesota dipped during the recent financial crisis, it's at record levels today due to increased global demand.

Revenue from school trust land is increasing

Increasing revenue is largely due to increased mineral demand. Net revenue from mineral leases, timber sales, surface leases, utility licenses, easements, land sales and state forest campground fees on DNR-managed school trust lands for the Permanent School Fund increased from $11.7 million in 2003 to $31 million in 2013.

Fish and wildlife recreation spending continues to grow the state's economy

Retail sales in Minnesota amounted to $2.4 billion for fishing and more than $670 million for hunting in 2011. Fishing supported 35,462 jobs and hunting supported 12,439 jobs state wide in 2011.