State parks and recreation department asking for feedback for the future

BISMARCK, N.D. - The sounds of nature, whether it's at a park, recreation area, or on a body of water, are at just about every turn in North Dakota. For the state's parks and recreation department, they're looking to up the ante and see what they can do even better.

The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department is under new leadership, and forging a new path. Director Melissa Baker has been heading the department for less than a year, but is now looking to the future; specifically making plans for where parks and recreation are headed in the next five years.

“What do our customers need and where do we have resources to allocate to different parts of our business,” Baker said. “How are we making sure that we're making decisions that fit the customer and the people of North Dakota.”

Public input sessions are being held across the state to ask parks and rec patrons what they're doing well, and how they can continue to provide the best experience.

“Recreation is an ever-evolving type of deal, so things that we would have never thought of before, you know, its people want more technology out in the parks, things like WiFi and things like that,” said Ryan Gardner, North Dakota Parks and Recreation Southwest Regional Manager. “That gets kinda hard because they are an expensive deal, it’s how can we get them to work in a campground.”

Gardner says other requests they get are just for more of what they already have; more land, more ski areas, more water activities. He says they're listening and are hoping for the same things.

“We're just as avid outdoors people as our customers, so a lot of those things that they’re interested in we are too, so we're happy to provide those things if we can,” Gardner said.

But in order to get them, the visitors first need to ask.

The group finishes off the public input sessions Thursday in Williston, but if you want your voice heard, contact the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department.