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News Release

New study of Minnesota recreational trail users shows economic impact

Study coordinated by University of Minnesota

Media Note: The study can be found at

Contacts: Ingrid Schneider, Department of Forest Resources and Uof M Tourism Center, (612) 624-2250 Becky Beyers, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, (612) 626-5754 Patty Mattern, University News Service, (612) 624-2801

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (09/24/2009) —Recreational trail users in Minnesota spent nearly $2.41 billion on travel expenses in the past year, according to a new study of the state’s trail user groups.

The study, coordinated by the University of Minnesota, provides useful information for recreation and trail managers, planners and advocacy groups. In addition to spending totals, the study explores users’ motivations for trail activity and their concerns about trail use.
The mail survey of trail users across Minnesota and across 20 types of recreational user groups (all-terrain vehicle riders, road and mountain bicyclists, cross-country skiers, horseback riders, off-highway motorcycle riders, off-road vehicle riders, inline skaters, snowmobile riders and walkers/hikers) revealed a range of travel expenditures among the groups. Walking/hiking activities accounted for $1.42 billion. These total trip expenditures culminate in more than 30,000 jobs in Minnesota and nearly $205 million in state and local taxes.
Recreational trail users said that they participate in their activity most often for physical activity, to view scenery and be close to nature, or to get away from day-to-day routines. Physical activity was among the top three highest percentages for six of the 20 groups surveyed, including off-highway motorcycle users. Of the 20 groups surveyed, six groups ranked getting physical activity as one of the top main reasons for participating in their activity – this included off-highway motorcycle users. When on the trail, nearly half of all recreational trail users noted some concerns that affected their experiences. 
The project was funded by the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, under the Recreation Trails Program and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center’s Carlson Chair for Travel, Tourism and Hospitality.  Collaborators of the project included the Minnesota Recreational Trail Users Association, University of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources (MN-DNR) and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. 
Nancy Hanson, president of the Minnesota Recreational Trail Users Association notes, “This project will be incredibly useful for our membership and for Minnesota trail users as we advocate for trails locally and statewide.”
Forrest Boe, deputy director of the DNR Parks and Trails Division added, "The MN-DNR is pleased to be a partner in such an important and innovative project. We look forward to using the information for trail planning and management.”
The core mission of the Department of Forest Resources is to advance science and management of forest and related natural resources. That is done by unique research, education, and outreach that informs the conservation, protection and use of these resources.  Visit for more information.
The Tourism Center ( is the source for Minnesota tourism education and research offering relevant and research-based education as well as research. The Tourism Center is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota Extension and College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Tags: College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

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