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Gov. Dayton proclaims June as Great Outdoors Month

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages Minnesotans to pack a picnic, grab a fishing rod and visit a state park or trail on Saturday, June 1, which is National Trails Day as well as the start of Great Outdoors Month, as proclaimed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

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Minnesota's extensive trail system is well known as one of the best public trail systems in the nation. In fact, Minnesota was voted Best Trails State in America by American Trails in 2010.

"As Governor Dayton noted in his proclamation, Minnesota is home to an extraordinary state park and trail system with 230,000 acres of land and thousands of miles of trails to explore," said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR's Parks and Trails Division. "Great Outdoors Month and National Trails Day provide great opportunities for Minnesotans to get away with family and friends to enjoy hiking, biking and a variety of other activities in the beautiful settings that have been preserved for current and future generations."

For anyone in need of ideas, Nelson suggests 10 ways to spend National Trails Day:

Paddle a state water trail. The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Minnesota's state water trails. The DNR's new Guide to Minnesota State Water Trails features photos and descriptions of the 33 routes the DNR maps and manages for canoeing, kayaking and motor boating. Downloadable maps and other trip-planning information can be found at www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.

Bike one of Minnesota's paved state trails. Itineraries for four recommended routes, all under 20 miles, can be found in the spring edition of the Minnesota State Parks and Trails Programs and Special Events catalog. Additional trip-planning information can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/trailstartup.html.

Join a naturalist for a guided bicycle ride on the Central Lakes State Trail from 9 to 11 a.m. every first Saturday, beginning June 1 and continuing through Sept. 7. Bring a helmet and meet at Big Ole in Alexandria.

Run a 5K or 10K at Buffalo River State Park on Saturday, June 1. This annual trail run is co-hosted by the park and the Science Center at Minnesota State University - Moorhead. Race information and online registration is available at www.mnstate.edu/sciencecenter.

Check out a GPS unit at one of the 25 Minnesota state parks that loan them out for free and follow a trail to find a hidden geocache. Many parks offer interactive Geocaching 101 workshops. There's one at Buffalo River State Park at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 1. For more information about geocaching at Minnesota state parks, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/geocaching/index.html.

Experience mountain biking at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, where there are 25 miles of single-track trails designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers, including routes suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders.

Visit the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area (www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/trail_detail.html?id=13/) in Gilbert, where 36 miles of OHV trails are now open seven days a week.

Go horseback riding in a Minnesota state park or state forest. Find a trail at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/horseback_riding/index.html.

Explore a Hiking Club Trail at a Minnesota state park, such as the three-mile loop around Pike Island at Fort Snelling State Park. Hiking Club trails are marked with special signs and have a password posted somewhere along the trail.

Ride an all-terrain vehicle in a Minnesota state forest or on one of the other recreational trails listed at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/index.html.

Many trails are within a stone's throw of the state's 5,400 fishing lakes and thousands of miles of rivers and streams so, in addition to hiking and biking gear, the DNR encourages trail users to consider packing a fishing rod or two.

"This is especially true for those who are visiting a Minnesota state park," said C.B. Bylander, outreach chief for the DNR's Fish and Wildlife Division. "In most state parks, residents can fish without a license, so they are perfect places to introduce someone new to fishing."

If a fishing license is necessary, a 24-hour resident license is just $10, and a 72-hour license is only $12. Most of these licenses allow trout fishing with the purchase of a trout stamp.

Many state parks have fishing poles and tackle boxes that can be checked out from the park office at no charge. For more information about the state parks with free fishing opportunities, visit www.mndnr.gov

(http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/free_fishing.html).

For more information about National Trails Day, visit www.americanhiking.org. For more information about state-managed trails, or to request one of the publications mentioned above, call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 (toll-free) between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit www.mndnr.gov/parksandtrails.

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