The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Explore Minnesota named members to the new Outdoor Recreation Task Force.

Among area residents selected were Aaron Hautala of Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Crew and Naomi Sam, coordinator and director, Cultural Resources for the Mille Lacs Band DNR.

The 20-person task force, which is set to meet via WebEx for the first time April 28, represents a broad swath of outdoor recreation interests in the state.

“Engaging this group of individuals is truly a unique opportunity for collaboration,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, in a news release. “I am confident that this group is ready to think creatively and develop ideas that will ensure Minnesota continues to be a national leader in outdoor recreation.”

The DNR and Explore Minnesota, in partnership with the governor’s office, selected task force members out of a pool of 140 applicants. The agencies reviewed applications and considered the needs of the task force through several lenses, including the variety of interests that are directly or indirectly related to outdoor recreation, such as non-motorized and motorized outdoor activities, economic development and tourism, health, education, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Other selection factors included types of outdoor organizations, such as nonprofits, manufacturing, retail, advocacy and volunteer-run groups in addition to diversity in race and ethnicity, gender, age and geography.

“I think the team assembled here is robust and represents a wide variety of industries, organizations and perspectives we need to continue elevating Minnesota’s outdoors as a national and international destination,” said Explore Minnesota Director John Edman in a news release. “Now more than ever, our great outdoors are vital to the well-being of Minnesotans and we hope this group will delve into how we can meet those demands.”

The first meeting via WebEx will provide an opportunity for the public to observe and send questions or comments. Meetings will continue remotely until risks of COVID-19 have dissipated, after which the task force will meet in-person, with the public welcome to attend.

Interested members of the public may stay updated on task force meetings and progress by subscribing to email updates and visiting the webpage at mndnr.gov/ortf. Information about meeting specifics for April 28 and how to login to the WebEx will be posted on the website.