Outdoors Notebook: New report highlights national park spending, economic impact

In 2021, about 297 million visitors spent $20.5 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park.

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Plateaus and tops of buttes provide expansive views of the buttes and river valley floor in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Contributed / Mark Hoffman, National Park Service
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Report highlights national park spending

WASHINGTON – Visitor spending in communities near U.S. national parks last year resulted in a $42.5 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 322,600 mostly local jobs, the Department of Interior reported Thursday, June 23.

“Nature is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity of every family and community in America, as well as to the local economies of gateway communities that support our national parks,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. “As we continue to welcome families to our parks and public lands across the country, the Interior Department is committed to making investments in our lands and waters that will support tens of thousands of jobs, safeguard the environment and help ensure that national parks and public lands are ready to meet the challenges of climate change and increased visitation.”

According to the National Park Service report, “2021 National Park Visitor Spending Effects,” about 297 million visitors spent $20.5 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park. Of the 322,600 jobs supported by visitor spending, 268,900 jobs were in park gateway communities.

In northern Minnesota, for example, 243,042 people visited Voyageurs National Park last year, contributing nearly $21.6 million in total visitor spending and supporting 299 jobs. In western North Dakota, 796,085 people visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park, contributing nearly $51.2 million in visitor spending and supporting 675 jobs.


The annual peer-reviewed economics report was prepared by economists from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service. It includes information by parks and by states on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.


For more information about national parks and how the National Park Service is working with communities in Minnesota and North Dakota, go to or .

– Herald staff report

DNR launches AIS pledge online

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has launched a new online pledge to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Anyone 18 or older can go to the new Pledge to Protect Minnesota Waters page of the DNR website to take the pledge and upload a photo, if desired. The pledge affirms that participants will follow Minnesota’s “Clean, Drain, Dispose” laws and will encourage others to do so.

“The pledge allows people to demonstrate their commitment to protect Minnesota waters,” Tina Fitzgerald, AIS prevention planner for the DNR, said in a statement. “Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels, starry stonewort and Eurasian watermilfoil, are spread by people, which means people can prevent their spread.”

Visitors to the page can also see other public pledges and share the page with friends.

Regardless of the activity – boating, paddling, fishing, moving shoreline equipment, using recreational gear on the water, or caring for aquarium pets or water gardens – everyone can pledge to do their part and take several simple actions to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The DNR also offered a reminder to follow Minnesota AIS laws:


  • Clean watercraft, trailers and equipment to remove aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water and leave drain plugs out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
  • Never release bait, plants or aquarium pets into Minnesota waters.
  • Dry docks, lifts and rafts for 21 days before moving them from one water body to another.

More information is available on the Aquatic Invasive Species page of the DNR website.

– Herald staff report

Feds commit to monarch conservation

WASHINGTON – The Department of Interior this week said it will award $1 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Monarch Butterfly and Pollinators Conservation Fund. The public-private partnership program will focus on the western monarch butterfly by improving the availability of high-quality habitat, increasing the capacity needed to expand conservation efforts into the future and supporting the implementation of technical assistance to engage private landowners with pollinator conservation practices on working lands. By leveraging the resources and expertise of partners, the program aims to help reverse recent population declines and ensure the survival of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators.

In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will establish a Pollinator Conservation Center to address the decline of pollinators, including monarch butterflies. The Center, funded through annual appropriations, will support conservation decisions where they occur. Staff will not only work across all FWS programs and regions but also with other agencies and organizations as a hub for improving the state of science and the direct conservation actions that can reverse population trends. 

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Sen. Jeff Merkley, R-Oregon, announced the steps during the first-ever Monarch Butterfly Summit on June 22-23 in Washington. Also attending the summit were Martha Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Shannon Estenoz, assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

– Herald staff report

N.D. conservationists applaud RAWA

BISMARCK – Wildlife conservationists in North Dakota and elsewhere applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act earlier this month, lauding the landmark legislation as the most significant investment in wildlife conservation in a generation.

If approved by the Senate, RAWA will provide unprecedented levels of funding for states, along with tribal nations, to conserve and recover imperiled wildlife and plant species.


According to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, RAWA would strengthen the nation’s conservation legacy by dedicating $1.3 billion annually for state-level conservation and $97.5 million to tribal nations to recover and sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations. The funds will be used to accelerate the recovery of the more than 12,000 species of greatest conservation need across the country by implementing strategies identified in each state’s federally approved State Wildlife Action Plan.

If approved as is, North Dakota could receive an estimated $15 million annually in dedicated wildlife funding.

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Jeb Williams, North Dakota Game and Fish Department director.
Contributed / North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Jeb Williams, North Dakota Game and Fish Department director, said that while RAWA passing the House was momentous, he understands the hurdles the bill must clear to become reality.

“The Senate will now be the next step in the process, and discussion continues amongst leadership on the importance of this funding,” he said.

Wildlife managers, Williams said, understand that listing a species as federally threatened or endangered may restrict or intensify certain actions on private and public lands. The cost of protection or restoration of a listed species is often far greater than preventing or stemming the decline in the first place.

“We have 115 species of conservation priority in North Dakota, and the backbone of RAWA is to give extra attention to those species so they don’t become threatened or endangered,” he said. “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a state wildlife grant on steroids, and the funding will certainly provide us the opportunity in North Dakota to keep that from happening.”

– Herald staff report

NDGF pronghorn survey to begin

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual aerial pronghorn survey will begin July 1 and is scheduled to be completed within two weeks, the department said this week.

During the survey period, small airplanes will sometimes fly low over some parts of western North Dakota.

The survey determines pronghorn abundance, herd demographics and fawn production. Game and Fish uses the data to set license numbers for the fall pronghorn season.

– Herald staff report

N.D. anglers should report tagged fish

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking anglers who catch a tagged fish to help fisheries managers by reporting the tag information.

Most tagged fish in North Dakota, except salmon, will have either a metal tag on the jaw bone or a small tag attached near the dorsal fin. Tagged salmon have their adipose fin removed and also have a microscopic coded wire tag embedded in their head. Anglers are asked to drop their tagged salmon heads off at Game and Fish offices in Riverdale or Bismarck so that biologists can remove the tag and read it.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists say it’s imperative anglers report tagged fish from whatever waters they are fishing in, whether the fish end up in a livewell or back in the lake. Anglers also are encouraged to treat tagged fish just like they would treat any other fish they might have caught.

Anglers are asked to record the tag number and report that, along with the date and location the fish was caught, approximate size and whether the fish was harvested or released. Tagged fish can be reported on the Game and Fish Department’s website,, or by calling the department’s main office in Bismarck at (701) 328-6300.

– Herald staff report

Federal Duck Stamp now on sale

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The 2022-23 Federal Duck Stamp went on sale Friday, June 24, Ducks Unlimited said in a news release highlighting the successful conservation program. The stamps, which cost $25 and raise about $40 million for conservation each year, are valid from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

Purchased by millions of waterfowl hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and stamp collectors every year, duck stamps provide critical funding to purchase and protect wetlands and associated habitat for ducks, geese and other wildlife species. Of every dollar spent on a duck stamp, 98 cents goes to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to acquire and protect waterfowl habitat, said Adam Putnam, CEO of Ducks Unlimited.

“The Federal Duck Stamp is one of the most efficient and effective ways to support conservation anywhere in the world,” Putnam said in a statement. “Buying Federal Duck Stamps is one of the easiest ways you can support habitat conservation. The stamps are one of the most successful conservation tools ever created to provide a funding source for wildlife conservation.”

2022-2023 Federal Duck Stamp Winner James Hautman © USFWS low res.jpg
Minnesota artist James Hautman's winning Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest entry features a pair of redheads floating in the water and will be featured on the 2022-2023 federal Duck Stamp.
Contributed/ © U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The 2022-23 Federal Duck Stamp features Minnesota artist James Hautman’s painting of a pair of redheads floating in the water. A green-winged teal, painted by 15-year-old South Dakota resident Madison Grimm, will grace the 2022-2023 Junior Duck Stamp, which raises funds to educate and engage our nation’s youth in wildlife and wetlands conservation and outdoor recreation. This is Grimm’s third national win. More than 3,000 junior duck stamps are sold annually for $5 each to help promote conservation education through art.

The duck stamp, more formally known as the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, dates back to 1934. Since then, the program has raised more than $1 billion to help acquire and protect more than 6 million acres of habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry a duck stamp while hunting. Duck stamps are sold at post offices nationwide and at many national wildlife refuges and sporting goods stores. Electronic versions of the duck stamp can be purchased online.

– Herald staff report

Game and Fish offers boat ramp reminders

BISMARCK – As it does every summer, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds boaters to plan accordingly when launching and loading a boat. Here are a few simple reminders to ensure a fluent transition at the ramp.


  • Don't pull onto the ramp until your boat is ready to launch. 
  • Prepare for launching in the parking area. Remove covers, load equipment, remove tie downs, attach lines and put in drain plug before backing onto the ramp.
  • When ready, pull in line to launch. Wait your turn. Be courteous. 


  • Don't block the loading area with your boat until your tow vehicle is ready to load. Wait until you are clear of the launch area to unload gear. 
  • As soon as your trailer is in the water, load and secure your boat to the trailer.
  • Remove boat and trailer from the water as quickly as possible. 
  • Get clear of the ramp. Pull into the parking area to finish securing your boat, unload gear, drain all water and inspect for and remove any vegetation. Remember to leave plugs out when transporting your boat.

– Herald staff report

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