Off-Highway Vehicle Strategic Plan
There is no doubt that parks and recreation play a vital role in North Dakota’s future, supporting economic vitality, workforce recruitment and retention, and improving community health. In looking specifically at the future of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department's (NDPRD) Off-Highway Vehicle program, it was important to develop a strategic roadmap for growth. NDPRD partnered with a consultant to complete analysis, stakeholder meetings, surveys, century code review, evaluation of existing OHV resources, and a comparison of adjacent state OHV programs. These efforts resulted in an Off-Highway Vehicle Strategic Plan.
The strategic plan provides the Department the ability to better understand the North Dakota OHV audience, identify opportunities to increase awareness of OHV recreation in our state, and facilitate partnerships with other stakeholders. The plan lays out short-term, mid-term, and long-term strategic action items, many of which are already being acted on including:
- Expanding riding opportunities across the state
- Developing brochures to provide critical information to users
- Developing new maps to promote designated riding areas
- Increasing stakeholder engagements and law enforcement presence
- Partnering with North Dakota Game and Fish to provide a suitable trailhead facility for the Rough Rider Trail
As the OHV market continues to grow, NDPRD seeks to create meaningful destinations that continue to connect people and places while celebrating and protecting our diverse natural resources. This will be achieved by facilitating partnerships and providing programs that encourage people to Ride ND First.
Traffic Counter Pilot Project Underway
The 66th Legislative Assembly included dollars for the start of a new traffic counter system, which is currently being installed at 11 North Dakota state parks. The updated traffic counters will be part of a two-year pilot program to test the system and gather more accurate data.
The previous traffic counter technology at most NDPRD properties is outdated and requires manual collection of data. This new optical technology will allow the department to understand customer patterns by assigning a short-term unique identifier for each user as they pass through the entrance areas. Traffic counters are the primary method of establishing a visitor count for 15 destination properties, and the accuracy of this data is important for the Department to staff accordingly and make budget and planning decisions.
Meet the New Park Managers
The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) celebrated the retirements of many long-term staff members this spring, which opened career advancement opportunities for others. Three current NDPRD employees have accepted new roles within the Department. Erik Dietrich, Eric Lang, and Terry Mitchell will bring their depth of experience and leadership to park manager positions across the state. As these individuals relocate, we hope you join us in saying congratulations and giving them a warm welcome to their new parks and communities!
Erik Dietrich, Park Manager – Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
After completing his degree in Forestry, Erik Dietrich spent three years as a seasonal employee at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park before working for the Bismarck Park District as Park Operations Foreman. Erik joined NDPRD full-time in 2006 and served as Motorized Recreation Coordinator until 2019 when he became the Assistant Park Manager at Cross Ranch State Park. Erik brings his broad knowledge of park operations and maintenance and to his new position as Park Manager at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
Eric Lang, Park Manager – Lake Metigoshe State Park
Eric Lang holds a degree in Natural Resources Management and after working at several wildlife refuges, he began his career with the NDPRD at Fort Stevenson State Park in 2005. Lang has been the Park Manager at Cross Ranch State Park since 2006 and has transitioned to his new role of Park Manager at Lake Metigoshe State Park.
Terry Mitchell, Park Manager – Cross Ranch State Park
Terry Mitchell began his career with NDPRD in 2015 at Sully Creek State Park where he held Park Ranger and Site Supervisor positions. He moved to Fort Ransom State Park as a Long Term Seasonal in 2016 and became Site Supervisor of Beaver Lake State Park in 2018. Mitchell has a bachelor’s degree in Conservation Management and has volunteered at local fire departments near each park he’s worked in. Terry has assumed his new role of Park Manager at Cross Ranch State Park as of early May.
Friends Groups Play Important Role
Many projects and events in state parks are made possible by friends groups and foundations. There are six friends groups or foundations in the North Dakota state parks system. These groups support their parks in a variety of ways including fundraising, promoting parks, participating in special events, completing projects in the park, purchasing equipment and supplies, and much more.
- Friends of Fort Lincoln – Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
- Sodbuster’s Association – Fort Ransom State Park
- Friends of Fort Stevenson – Fort Stevenson State Park
- Northeastern North Dakota Heritage Association – Icelandic State Park
- Friends of Lewis & Clark – Lewis & Clark State Park
- Friends of Turtle River – Turtle River State Park
Friends groups are largely volunteer based. They may be working behind the scenes, but play a major role in a park's success. Consider joining a group or starting one in a park without a group.
Recreational Trails Program Now Accepting Applications
The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant cycle is open May 3 – May 31. The RTP is an 80/20 matching grant program that provides funding for motorized and non-motorized recreational trail projects. This program is administered at the state level through the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department with guidance from the Recreational Trails Program Advisory Council (RTPAC), and federally through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This year, the applications have been moved to a new online platform, Web Grants.
Applicants may request grant amounts ranging from a minimum of $10,000 up to a maximum of $250,000, and project sponsors must have at least 20% match available at the time of the application. Eligible projects consist of constructing new recreation trails; restoration of existing trails; development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages; purchase and lease of recreational trail construction and maintenance equipment; land acquisition/easements; and trail accessibility assessment.
For more information, contact Char Langehaug, Grants Coordinator, at 701-328-5357.
Every year, the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department offers a variety of rewarding seasonal positions during the summer months. We're seeking individuals to play an important role in providing quality, memorable experiences for our visitors and maintaining our park trails and infrastructure. Featured job openings include:
On the Horizon
Fort Stevenson State Park Campground Project
Visitors to Fort Stevenson State Park can look forward to expanded camping options in 2022 with an additional 23 full-service camping sites. After completing necessary planning and permitting steps, NDPRD received bids on building a new campground loop at Fort Stevenson State Park on April 23. A bid has been accepted, and the project is moving into the contracting phase, with construction expected to be completed by the end of October 2021. The new campsites will be similar to Fort Stevenson’s North Loop offering sewer, water, and electrical hookups and are expected to be available to campers in May 2022.
North Dakota Passport
North Dakota visitors and residents alike can look forward to the launch of an exciting new program this summer. With the North Dakota Passport, individuals can explore 37 unique destinations in four regions of the state, documenting their travels by collecting stamps and memories along the way. Information on all of North Dakota's state parks and many state historic sites has been combined to create one guide that encourages visitors to get the most out of their travels by learning fun facts and taking part in must-see attractions.
This project is a collaborative effort between the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department and State Historical Society of North Dakota. Watch for the North Dakota Passport to go on sale starting in June!