Minnesota State Parks Prepare for Reopening
The end of Minnesota’s government shutdown will bring the reopening of state parks, one of the most visible casualties of the budget impasse, starting as early as Friday.
As reported by the Associated Press, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spokesman Chris Niskanen said some parks would reopen for day use starting Friday, with overnight camping as early as Saturday. Niskanen warned that those were best-case scenarios, and the speed with which parks reopen could vary widely.
The parks have to be cleaned and checked to make sure they are safe, Niskanen said. Some parks were damaged by an early July windstorm; others by vandals. Some have garbage left by day-use visitors since the shutdown began that has to be cleaned up.
“We really want to manage people’s expectations here,” Niskanen said. “These are not latchkey operations.”
State employees were expected back on the job starting Thursday.
Niskanen said the DNR hoped to update its website, www.state.mn.us , to show a green, yellow or red button next to each state park to give the public a sense of whether it is open, partially open or closed.
Parks that will require the most work are Afton, Lake Bronson, Camden, Upper Sioux Agency, Flandreau, Blue Mounds, Wild River and St. Croix. St. Croix, 1 of the state’s most popular parks, may not open for two to four weeks due to a July 1 storm that downed trees across thousands of acres, Niskanen said.
Niskanen said it may take a couple of days before the DNR’s reservations system can take new reservations because pending refunds must be cleared first. People with existing reservations should be able to camp if their park is fully open, he said.
“We understand that people were disappointed and frustrated and many of their vacations were put on hold, and people are anxious to go back to the parks. But we want to make sure people don’t walk into a park where there’s a safety problem or a bad experience,” Niskanen said.