Fully realizing the deficit-plagued state of Minnesota can’t operate in a business-as-usual mode, we were disheartened to see legislation advance which could place up to 10 state parks in mothballs until state finances improve.
The majority of Minnesota’s state parks are popular, inexpensive family destinations which encourage in-state tourism and productive use of our natural resources. Sites such as Crow Wing State Park and the Lindbergh State Park are an important draw which bring tourists to the nearby cities of Brainerd and Little Falls.
It would seem that as long as no major renovation projects are started at state parks, they could remain open with reduced services and perhaps increased user fees without making much of a dent in the state budget.
We don’t envy DNR officials and state lawmakers who will decide which parks and how many might have to be cut. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr pointed out the parks range in annual operating costs from $30,000 to $1.5 million. He said closing the expensive Tower-Soudan Underground Mine and Itasca State Park would take care of the cuts or the state could close 10 smaller parks.
Choosing either of those options is guaranteed to result in turning many Minnesotans into unhappy campers.