WINONA, Minnesota (WXOW) - July 14 marked the first Minnesota "State Water Trails Day."
About 120 paddlers came out to Prairie Island Park in Winona where U.S. Fish and Wildlife and DNR officials gave guided tours of the Mississippi backwaters.
Minnesota has 33 official "water trails" stretching 4,400 miles, the largest system in the nation.
Minnesota DNR Water Trails Coordinator Erik Wrede says the event engages people in their local environment.
"(U.S. Fish & Wildlife and DNR) are banding together to get people outside, recreating in the outdoors," he said. "The more people there are that play outside, the more people there are that protect and advocate for natural resources."
The Winona event was one like many in the states that border the Mississippi River. U.S. Fish & Wildlife has partnered with agencies in 10 other states, organizing 200 events that promote recreation on the Mississippi.
Wrede said there's been a national downward trend in outdoor recreation, but he's encouraged by events like these.
"Everyone is here because we want to inspire people to get outside and enjoy state water trails, local water trails," he said. "Get out and paddle. Get on the water."
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