The six U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation facilities in the Mississippi River headwaters region saw more than 900,000 visitors and generated more than $23 million to the local headwaters economy throughout 2003.
John O'Leary, Corps headwaters operations manager, said the Corps of Engineer's campgrounds are an important part of the state's tourism industry.
"In fact, Corps' campgrounds have a huge impact on the local economy," O'Leary said. "Many of our customers stay for weeks, patronizing local merchants of all types, as they repair their campers or cars and buy groceries, souvenirs, gas, clothing, bait and more. This is new money being injected into the local economy, it is a critical part of our economic development efforts in the headwaters."
The six parks are located on Cross, Gull, Sandy, Leech, Pokegama and Winnibigoshish lakes. Together they create 437 public and private jobs.
* Cross Lake Recreational Area, Crosslake, had 369,761 visitors this year who contributed $8.9 million to the regional economy and directly supported 145 jobs.
The grounds received a multimillion dollar facelift. Campsites are wooded with a variety of tree species and the grounds have recreational opportunities for boating, fishing, picnicking and swimming. There is also an accessible fishing pier.
* Gull Lake Recreation Area, where Gull Lake and Gull River meet, 10 miles northwest of Brainerd, had about 278,973 visits to the park in 2003 with $6.3 million for the regional economy and directly supporting 102 jobs.
The site includes a paved bicycle trail, an oak-shaded picnic lawn on the lake, a picnic area with playground on the Gull River, a volleyball court, a fishing pier and walking trails, a beach and campground.
* Sandy Lake Recreational Area, 13 miles north of McGregor, hosted 142,959 visitors who added $3.83 million to the regional economy and supported 63 jobs. Sandy Lake is part of the fur trade canoe route that linked Lake Superior and the Mississippi River during the 1800s. Recreational opportunities include boating, camping, fishing, historical interpretation, picnicking and swimming, as well as playground areas.
* Leech Lake Recreational Area sits on the northeastern corner of Leech Lake in Federal Dam. The campground is known for its fishing and wooded campsites, as well as an overnight boat mooring. Features include facilities for boating, camping, fishing, picnicking and playgrounds. About 42,412 people used the facility in 2003, contributing $2.4 million to the regional economy and supporting 18 jobs.
* Pokegama Recreational Area is on the Mississippi River on the western edge of Grand Rapids. It offers boating, camping, fishing, picnicking, accessible fishing pier and playground. About 60,000 visitors arrived in 2003 contributed to $1.37 million to the economy supporting 22 jobs.
* Lake Winnibigoshish Recreational Area, located 14 miles northwest of Deer River, had 26,034 guests who contributed $1.46 million to the regional economy and supported 23 jobs. The lake is known for walleye, perch and musky. Recreational options include boating, picnicking, fishing and playground.
For more information, call the National Recreation Service at (877) 444-6777, or go online to www.reserveUSA.com. Economic information on Corps campsites is available at www.corpsresults.us.
Golden Age Passports are available for those 62 and older for a $10 processing fee from Corps' recreational area staff. For more information, contact Frank Star at (651) 290-5328.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.