The (Federal) Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) has announced it will undertake what’s known as a “special review” to examine the Minnesota DNR’s alleged misuse of federal grant funds designed to benefit wildlife and their habitat. The only other special review currently underway by the OLA is focused on the Department of Education’s oversight of the massive fraud committed by the nonprofit “Feeding Our Future” which bilked millions in Federal Covid dollars. That review should wrap up in July. And the review of the DNR will begin.

The problems came to light when 28 DNR wildlife managers sent a letter to the DNR Central Office agency leaders expressing their concerns for wildlife species due to timber harvest goals. The grant funds are sourced from Pittman-Robertson federal funding for Wildlife Habitat Management.  The DNR did not provide proper documentation to US Fish and Wildlife Service  of the timber sales and appropriate usage of grant funds.

The DNR’s knee jerk response was to put in place a 16-page categorical exclusion form that has 31 attachments (reviews of historical significance, ecologic, endangered species, wetland, and many more) that has to be done for every project that MTRA had planned to fund. MTRA funds do not come from Fish & Wildlife but Federal Highway Administration. MTRA was originally told that we would be exempt since we only fix existing trails and camps. However, the first (of 31) reviewers turned down every project for unbelievably stupid reasons.

Back to DNR “review”, a former deputy DNR Commissioner and a former DNR forester say this review is serious and Central Office should not be telling field staff to keep quiet and that everything is fine.

The April 4 DNR meeting at Sand Dunes State Forest spent much of the meeting talking about timber sales and logging at Sand Dunes. It appears the DNR is supporting logging urged by the timber industry. So where does that leave recreational users in state forests and Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). Field staff try to work with and accommodate users, but are Central Office staff in tune with recreational needs? Are recreational users ever consulted?

 Welcome to the
Minnesota Trail Riders Association website

We’re glad you found us!

If you’re not already an MTRA member, please consider joining us or donating to support Minnesota equestrian trails.

The BODs sends our thanks to our paid membership for their continued support. To become a paid member and support our horse trails and horse parks, please click Membership on the left side of this page or click below.

Click here to join or donate

2024 MTRA Meetings
All meetings will be at the American Legion in Howard Lake and will start at 12:00p.  Order lunch at 11:00a.
February 18
Yearly review of MTRA for 2023, so if you want to know what the BOD did in 2023, I encourage you to attend this meeting
Next meeting date is:  April 7

Luce Line Horse Trail Closed
During Spring Melt

The horse trail along the Luce Line State Trail from Vicksburg Lane in Plymouth to the city of Winsted is closed during wet conditions in the spring.

Signs will be posted along the horse trail to inform riders of the closure. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and local law enforcement will monitor compliance.

The main Luce Line State Trail will remain open for allowed uses such as hiking and biking. Horseback riding is not allowed on the main trail at any time.

For more information, visit the DNR’s Luce Line State Trail page ( or contact the DNR Information Center by emailing calling 888-646-6367 from
Monday-Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Stearns County Parks, Trails, and Recreation System: Spring 2023 Survey <—click here

Stearns County is in the beginning stages of a 10-month process to develop a master plan for the parks, trails, and recreation system. The plan will guide future investments and initiatives over the next 10-20 years. Input from Stearns County residents, visitors, and business owners is needed to help the county plan for the future.

Stearns County’s existing system of parks, trails, and open space includes 19 unique park and trail recreation facilities, ranging from boat landings to regional and local trails, to significant regional parks. The County maintains and operates the following outdoor recreation facilities:

  • 2 Signature Recreation Facilities: Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, Lake Wobegon Trail
  • 2 Linear Parks/Greenways/Trails: Beaver Island Trail, Dairyland Trail/Soo Line Rail Corridor
  • 7 Special Features: Upper Spunk Lake County Park, Fairhaven Mill Park, Lake Sylvia Wayside, St. Martin Canoe Access, Heims Mill Canoe Access, Miller Landing, and Clearwater River Canoe Access
  • 8 County Parks/Open Spaces: Warner Lake County Park, Mississippi River County Park, Oak Township Park , Lake Koronis Regional Park, Kraemer Lake Park, Rockville Park, Spring Hill County Park, Two Rivers Lake Park site

We hope to see many of you out on the trails! Please let us know if you have ideas for rides.

Photo: Lynda Zimmerman

The 2023 rides are complete. Follow us on our FB Page for more information and to see member’s photos.

All Smiles!