DULUTH (AP) -- Minnesotans want more public land, they are happy with their fishing and they give good marks for the state Department of Natural Resources, according to a survey the agency conducted.
About 70 percent of 510 survey respondents said they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the agency's job on campgrounds, trails, endangered species, forest fires and exotic species.
"Our support seems to be growing among the public," said Dennis Stauffer, spokesman for DNR Commissioner Allen Garber.
The survey results offer a contrast to the DNR's image among many lawmakers and activists who often criticize the agency for being out of touch.
"Lawmakers and others often hear from the people who have complaints, and they respond to those complaints," said Tom Baumann, director of the DNR's Information, Education and Licensing Division.
"The danger in only responding to complaints, though, is that you don't hear from the majority of the people who would say the DNR did right by them," he added.
One surprise finding: Seventeen percent of the survey respondents said fishing is "not important" to them, up from 5 percent in 1988. Twenty percent said hunting is "not important" to them, up from 11 percent in 1988.
"Part of that is the urbanization issue," Baumann said.
Other findings of the survey:
--Fifty-four percent of the respondents "strongly agree" or "agree" that the state should buy more public land to protect natural resources.
--Thirty-two percent of the respondents "strongly agree" or "agree" that the DNR should set up more land for off-road vehicles.
--Sixty-three percent of the respondents "agree" or "strongly agree" that permanent deer hunting stands should be banned from state lands.
--Eighty-one percent of the respondents said they want state lands to remain in state hands.
The poll has been conducted every four years since 1988. Last spring, the DNR mailed surveys to 1,000 homes from a list purchased from a direct mail company; 510 surveys were returned completed.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.