DNR seeks input on increasing wildlife access
NEW ULM — Anyone interested in improving access to wildlife management areas (WMAs) for people with disabilities can share their ideas online with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“We want to hear how we can improve recreational opportunities and reduce barriers on WMAs. Public lands are for all Minnesotans, including those with disabilities,” said David Trauba, DNR southern region wildlife manager in New Ulm.
The public can share their input through Friday, Jan. 22 on the DNR Community Engagement Page, www.engage.dnr.state.mn.us.
The DNR will use the input to shape recommendations the agency will make to the Minnesota Legislature in February about increasing WMA accessibility.
Legislation championed by Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz this year requires the DNR to make it easier for people with disabilities to access WMAs and publicize access opportunities.
The DNR manages a system of 1.3 million acres of land in about 1,500 WMAs. The land is open to everyone for outdoor activities including hunting, trapping, fishing, wildlife watching and nature photography.
Most parts of WMAs are closed to motorized access but people with mobility disabilities canuse other power-driven mobility devices (OPDMDs) on WMAs with a permit.
More information about applying for and using OPDMD permits on WMAs and other DNR-administered land is available on the DNR website, www.dnr.state.mn.us.
The best way for people to obtain a permit is to contact area wildlife office in the county where the WMA is located.
The DNR website WMA Finder directs users to WMAs with infrastructure like hunting blinds or trails with grades and surfaces that are wheelchair accessible.
Each year, the DNR administers 16 special hunts for people with disabilities. For more information on the hunts, call 888-646-6367.