Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Legislative Session and ND Parks and Recreation

By Arik Spencer, Recreation Division Manager

The 63rd North Dakota Legislative Assembly is well underway and the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) is tracking nearly 20 bills which impact the department in one way or another. HouseBill (HB) 1019 is the most significant of these as it authorizes funding for NDPRD parks, programs and construction projects for the next two year budget cycle. Also of interest is HB1278 which would create a new ND Outdoor Heritage fund to support conservation and park and recreation efforts. This bill is supported by the department and would establish a 30,000,000/biennium fund controlled by the Industrial Commission, which would then award grants to state agencies, political subdivisions and non-profits. This bill has broad support from the conservation, recreation, agriculture, business and energy industries, all of which testified for passage of the bill.

While both HB 1019 and HB 1278 deal with funding for NDPRD, some bills affect NDPRD staff which is the case with Senate Bill (SB) 2134. SB2134  adds NDPRD law enforcement officers to the Workforce Safety and Insurance Presumption Clause, which covers law enforcement personnel with additional insurance benefits in the case of a death, injury or work related illness. Currently NDPRD law enforcement officers are the only state law enforcement agency not covered by the Presumption Clause. In addition to SB 2134, there are a number of other bills which affect state employee pay, travel expenses and retirement which are tracked by NDPRD. To learn more about these bills and others, check out the website for the ND Legislative Assembly at

Arik Spencer
Recreation Division Manager

Monday, January 28, 2013

ND State Park Rangers and Law Enforcement in ND State Parks

By Erik Dietrich - Motorized Recreation Coordinator

What exactly does a Park Ranger do?  Park Rangers wear many hats including those of a fire fighter, forester, biologist, interpreter, maintenance to name just a few.  They visit schools to talk about history, interpretive programs, safety education and much more.
One hat that some people don’t know Park Rangers wear is that of a law enforcement officer.  The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department has 24 Park Rangers that are full-time law enforcement officers with the same ticket writing authority and arresting powers of any highway patrolman, county deputy, city police officer or game warden.  Most park visitors do not see Park Rangers in that capacity, but it is there just the same. 

Erik Dietrich
Motorized Recreation Coordinator
During the busy seasons, our state parks and recreational areas can have as many visitors in a single park as residents in a small community.  With that many visitors in a single park, there is a definite need to have law enforcement personnel close by.  Park Rangers fill that need and do it with a smile!  Park Rangers deal with many issues ranging from underage drinking, family domestics, hunting violations and snowmobile and off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail enforcement to name just a few.  Park Rangers strive and make state parks and recreational areas a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors!  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Becoming an Outdoors Women (BOW)

By Amy Schimetz - Interpreter and Lake Metigoshe Outdoor Learning Center Coordinator 

Twice a year, in the summer and winter, the North Dakota Game & Fish Department puts on BOW workshops at Lake Metigoshe State Park.  Although the BOW workshops are designed primarily for women, they are open to anyone over the age of 18 with an interest in the outdoors.
The workshops provide an opportunity and atmosphere to learn skills usually associated with hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities in a comfortable setting with others who have similar interests and perhaps questions.  They are great workshops to come to whether you are going to come by yourself or drag your friend, sister or mom with.  Either way, you’ll get some great instruction with the opportunity to ask questions, test and use related equipment, perhaps pick up a new hobby or simply try something out knowing you may make a fool of yourself in front of others doing the same thing!

The 2013 winter BOW workshop is scheduled for Feb. 22-24.  The winter workshop may include snowshoeing, dark house spearfishing, cross-country skiing, winter survival, wild game cooking, winter camping, geocaching, ice fishing, winter birding and more! 

The 2013 summer BOW workshop is scheduled for Aug. 9-11.  Dutch oven cooking, butterfly identification, shot gunning, archery, canoeing, kayaking, fly fishing, orienteering, outdoor photography, and backcountry camping/hiking are among the opportunities the summer workshop provides.

Amy Schimetz
Interpreter and Lake Metigoshe 
Outdoor Learning Center Coordinator 
No matter your level of experience or interest, the BOW workshops have something for everyone.  Please consider registering for these great opportunities at Lake Metigoshe State Park where you can “Play in Our Backyard!”  Further information and registration forms can be found at or by calling the North Dakota Game & Fish Department at 701-328-6312. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Parks Day at the Capitol

By Kevin Stankiewicz, Recreation and Trails Grant Coordinator 

The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) is hosting Parks Day at the Capitol on Jan. 23 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

With the 63rd legislative assembly in progress, this is an opportunity for state park personnel to showcase all the “good stuff” state parks have to offer.  

Both park personnel and headquarter staff will be available on-site to answer questions and provide information to North Dakota legislators, as well as the general public.  Joining us in the booth area will also be some of our partners: North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association, Sodbuster Association and North Eastern North Dakota Heritage Association.  

Whether new to the area, visiting, taking a lunch break or perhaps you work at the capitol, stop by and find out what’s happening in North Dakota State Parks in “2013 and beyond!”

Does that last phrase in quotations remind you of any movie?  Ah yes, Toy Story, and the memorable mantra of Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond!”  Nice segue hey?  Except I am not looking ahead to infinity rather back into history, 50 years for that matter.  The NDPRD will be commemorating its 50th anniversary in 2015.  Past, future, past, future…well which is it?  I guess a bit of both.  

By Kevin Stankiewicz, Recreation and Trails Grant Coordinator
Nevertheless, many North Dakotans and visitors alike have benefited over the years from North Dakota’s state parks.  When you stop to visit my booth during “Parks Day at the Capitol,” share your stories or offer up a suggestion or two on what North Dakota Parks mean to or has meant to you. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Recreational Trails Program - Grants

By Kevin Stankiewicz, Recreation and Trails Grant Coordinator 

The Recreational Trails Program is an 80/20 matching grant program that provides funding for motorized and non-motorized recreational trail projects.  The RTP is administered at the state level through the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, and federally through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). 

The application cycle opened Jan. 4, 2013 with a deadline of March 4, 2013 at 5:00pm CST. 

Applicants may request grant amounts ranging from a minimum of $20,000 up to a maximum of $150,000 and project sponsors must have at least 20% of the total project cost available at the time of the application.  Applications are available online.
By Kevin Stankiewicz, Recreation and Trails Grant Coordinator

Monday, January 7, 2013

Online Reservations

By Karen Assel, Assistant Field Manager 

In 2008 the ND Parks and Recreation Department (NDPRD) implemented an online application for campsite and cabin reservations in 11 state parks.  System use has increased 68 percent over the past five years! 

Online reservations are a win/win situation for both park visitors and staff.  The system is available 24/7 and shows real time reserved site availability, photos of campsites and cabins, and ready access to park events, fees and policies.  Online use takes the booking and fee collection task away from park staff, allowing them more time for direct customer service in the park.  Overall operations are more efficient when customers arrive at the park pre-paid with site confirmations in hand.

State Parks have always offered a reservation service; however, initially the only option was a phone call to the park.  Because we have limited park staff, it was hit and miss to catch an employee in the office to handle these calls.  In the mid-1990s we moved to a centralized reservation system operated by a Call Center vendor.  Approximately 21percent of park visitors still use the telephone option to book reservations.

Karen Assel
Assistant Field Manager
Charges for telephone reservations started at $5 per reservation in 1994.  In 2008 NDPRD increased the standard fee to $6 per telephone reservation and added a discounted $3 per online reservation charge.  

Due to increased Call Center and online maintenance costs, we are increasing these non-refundable reservation fees beginning January 1, 2013 to the following rates:

Online Price
Call Center Price

Single Campsite



Group Campsite