Outdoor Life picks Bemidji as No. 19 on 'Best Places to Live' list

The sporting opportunities provided by this area's lakes, rivers, woods and prairies won Bemidji a spot in the top 20 best places to live as judged by Outdoor Life magazine...

The sporting opportunities provided by this area's lakes, rivers, woods and prairies won Bemidji a spot in the top 20 best places to live as judged by Outdoor Life magazine

For an article titled "Paradise Found" in the April issue, members of the magazine's staff profiled every population center in the United States with more than 4,000 people. They gathered data on the overall quality of life the towns offered considering factors such as the growth rate of the local economy, the unemployment rate, the degree of taxation, the time it takes to commute to work, the crime rate, housing prices, median household income and variety of cultural opportunities within easy driving distance. They rated each of these attributes on a scale of 1-10. They also rated 1-10 the fishing and hunting opportunities each town offers, the trophy quality of the sporting opportunities, proximity to land, the restrictiveness of the gun laws and whether fishing and hunting is good year-round. To complete the survey, the researchers developed a large database, weighting the sporting opportunities 60 percent of the score and the other quality of life aspects of the towns at 40 percent.

The results put Bemidji at No. 19 among 200 towns that made the "Best Places to Live" list. The researchers rated Bemidji's outdoor potential as follows:

-- Population -- 13,291.

-- Huntable species -- 6.


-- Fishable species -- 8.

-- Trophy potential -- 7.

-- Year-round opportunities -- 5.

-- Public land access -- 9.

-- Gun laws -- 5.

"There are a lot of outdoorsmen looking to put down roots in an area with more campsites then condos," said Outdoor Life Editor Todd Smith. "We went straight to facts when putting this list together to make sure we got the best options. With hard data backing our rankings I know sportsmen aren't going to be disappointed."

"It's really nice to have Minnesota rated among the top 20," said C.J. Johnson, outdoor media specialist for Explore Minnesota Tourism.

He added that Bemidji, as an educational, retail, healthcare and arts center, has all the attributes for high quality of life, as well as hunting and fishing opportunities.


Speaking as a resident of the Twin Cities, Johnson said, "Just sitting on your deck at night, you can see stars you didn't know existed."

Pam Bostic said she and her husband, Ron, had visited Bemidji, but they moved here from Elk River to buy a business, Taber's Bait & Log Cabins.

"We're big into fishing, especially walleye fishing, but we're into pan fishing, too," she said. "There are so many lakes to choose from and we think it's the most beautiful part of the state."

She said the all aspects of life are good in Bemidji including education and friendly people.

"I worked in downtown Minneapolis and had a big long commute," she said. "This is so much nicer. We love the area. We're very happy here and we never get bored."

Johnson said Minnesota regularly rates high when magazines that specialize in outdoors activities, hunting and fishing make surveys.

"We offer so much for outdoor people," Johnson said.

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