Which state parks would you especially want the DNR to keep open?

DNR officials have warned that proposed budget cuts could force it to mothball some of Minnesota’s state parks. Today’s Question: Which state parks would you especially want the DNR to keep open?

  • Fort Snelling State Park – it’s where I get my nature fix all year but especially in winter. I can drive through and see turkeys along the road, eagles and hawks perched in trees, and deer against the snowy woods.

  • Don

    All the North Shore state parks are a jewel in the state park system. Banning State Park is also a hidden treasure to be shared with the public.

  • sce

    Every park in every republican district.

  • Dave M.

    Glendalough State Park. I think the big favorites would likely stay open but I would like to see some of the lesser-known gems like Glendalough stay open.

  • Linda

    None of them should be closed. None of the trees should be cut down in any of the parks. What are we supposed to do, go out of state to spend what little recreational funds a family may have? What, enrich busineses outside of Minnesota? what are these republicans thinking! And,yet, maybe every haibrained plan they come up with should be put into law. Let people see what they voted in and live with it.

  • Larry M.

    All of them, these parks not only provide economical opportunities for individuals and families to travel, they provide economic stimulus to towns both near the parks and en route to the parks. All the parks I’ve been to have an educational component that talks about the history of Minnesota and the lands which the park situated. To take away affordable vacation opportunities from families in this tough economy is a move in the wrong direction.

  • Personally, I would like to see Bearhead Lake State Park stay open. Mostly because it was voted “America’s Favorite Park” in a Coke contest, secondly because it is featured as the State Park Annual Permit this year…which by the way…that’s my picture on the permit :)…And third because it is the park that I visit the most…plus I used to work there at the front desk, and I know how many people enjoy the park, and how much the park staff enjoys being there.

    Also I would like to see the Soudan Underground Mine State Park remain open. It is a unique part of the history of the Iron Range, and a wonderful place to travel into. It is also adjacent to the new Vermilion State Park location which could potentially be a large draw for visitors to the Range which would help the area economically.

  • Brian D

    All of them.

    A couple weeks ago the MN Department of Revenue released a report indicating that the top 10% of MN income earners have an effective tax rate of 10.3% and the rest of us a rate of 12.3%. The legislature should pass legislation raising the taxes on the wealthiest MN income earners to bring their effective tax rates in line with those that the rest of us pay. Only after passing this legislation should the legislature propose any cuts in our budget.

  • Garyf

    I’m still kinda perplexed why we just had to buy that land last year for a new state park.

    No money for schools or nursing homes but we had money to buy land?

  • Zebulun

    Call their bluff. For every short-sighted idea proposed by a Republican, the ramifications should be felt in their hometown. If these conservative legislators want to sell off our natural resources and cut community services, let them and their particular constituents feel the full brunt of the consequences. Dumb ideas should be isolated and exposed for what they are.

  • Richard Lichty

    Why are the Republicans wasting our time passing bills they know will be vetoed; at least I hope they will be vetoed. They eventually have to negotiate with the governor . . . why aren’t they doing it up front? I can’t believe we are going to cut the DNR budget to the extent the Republicans want.

  • Paul St. Paul

    All of them. And let the suggestion that we close any of them be a reminder to the people of Minnesota that when you vote Republicans into office this is how it turns out; they have this uncanny way of acting exactly like Republicans.

  • GaryF

    So, if we spent the same money as last year, $32billion, departments would be getting a cut?

    So, not getting your automatic increase is now a cut?

  • Wade

    Considering things like the arts are stealing money from the funds that would keep the parks open. Perhaps we should cut the funding to the arts and let them get their own funding and stand on their own merits. Then we most likely would have enough funds for the things that matter, like state parks.

  • Matt D

    I think this is a very dishonest question. The Star Tribune has noted that no parks would be actually “closed”, but they may have less staffed services, or shorter hours. While a park may need some maintaince there is no reason to actually close down a park. I would like to see some honest reporting on this issue, including if a cut is really proposed or if they are suggesting having less of an increase than is proposed, which is NOT a cut..

  • Steve the Cynic

    No, GaryF, but having to postpone expenses to meet one year’s budget and then not having those expenses funded in the next year has exactly the same effect as a cut.

  • Kirk

    Why on earth would they close any state parks? It was reported on your station that multi-day visits were up 16% (?) and single day visits were up 12% (?) last year.

    This will disproportunately affect the people who can not afford to stay at resorts and hotels. Seems it is a revenue stream that should be maintained given the economic situation.

  • My 5 essential parks:


    Grand Portage

    Fort Snelling


    Forestville/Mystery Cave

  • Our grandfathers will not be happy with the trend to take away our natural heritage and the treasure that it is.

    Minnestoa historically always found a way to provide the best in wild places such as our state parks for all to enjoy and at a very affordable price. Even during the great depression.

    Today our affluent society falsly thinks we can not afford these places anymore. The opposite is the reality, as the population increases these wild places have a value beyond money and during the recent economic downturn the State Park usage skyrocketed as families chose close to home alternatives to big money vacations.

    Some day we may look around and see that Minnesota is not such a special place anymore,

    The bottom line is that we should be adding places to the State Park systems not reducing them in any way. However I am older and value the wild places and I dont think the younger people do as much anymore .

    Not a good sign.

  • Melissa

    Camden State Park – beautiful piece of solace in SW MN. We have limited access to hiking parks in SW MN

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Our grandfathers will not be happy with the trend to take away our natural heritage and the treasure that it is.”

    Neither will our grandchildren.

  • Stan

    Yes very misleading question. The Tribune, KARE11, and MPR all reported “reduced hours and services” NOT closing. See link below.

    No rant; no slant? This question seems to be designed to evoke a passionate rant of the liberal left. Mission accomplished.

    Why do a few people hyjack every question and turn it into a political rant, usually from the left? Just like all caps need to be block, blantant off topic political rants and name calling should be blocked.


  • Sue de Nim

    This is crazy and short-sighted. What kind of ancestors do we want to be? If you’re in a Republican district, call your legislators and tell them to fully fund DNR, for the sake of future generations.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I don’t know, Stand. There seem to be plenty of rants from the right on these pages, too.

  • Benjamin

    Luckily, parks can take care of themselves.

  • Mary

    Thanks, Kirk, for a thoughtful reply. Our state parks are valuable resources for the future of our state and its environment, and closing or neglecting them should be unthinkable.

  • Jenny

    I would have to vote for the parks in the northern half of the state. It seems like any time they talk about doing anyway with things or cutting services, it is always the northern half of the state that bears the brunt. They justify this by saying the northern parts are underutilized. Actually, they are not underutilized. We just don’t have the population concentration here. Decisions on cutting state services should be made using percentages, not straight utilization numbers. A high percentage of the people in the northern half of the state use state parks. If the numbers say otherwise, then go by the percentages.

  • Bill A.

    I say close them all down, sell the land to the higest bidder. Shut down the DNR everybody knows they are an enforcement arm of the EPA.

    Thing of the money made and the money saved!

    Besides if you can’t afford a vacation to a private resort you must not be working to hard enough.

    “please note this is all sarcasm”

  • john


  • Mike Bartlette

    The state should not “mothball” or close ANY of our beautiful state parks. They are what make Minnesota a great state to live in, and not to mention brings in tourism dollars.

    It is a travesty what Republicans are doing to our state in the form of proposed cuts to education and outdoor recreation. If Republicans get their way, we’d have a state with crumbled infrastructure (LGA), limited education (thanks tea baggers), limited availability for camping and limited maintenance on OUR parks.

    I am hoping Governor Dayton holds his ground against this outright assault on our state.

  • Steve D

    My top 5 are:


    Old Mill

    Glacial Lakes

    Buffalo River

    Lake Bronson

    I agree with Brian D raise taxes on the top 10% to the 12.3% than add a surtax on us in the top 30% to last until unemployment drops below 5% for 6 months straight. Than drop the surtax!!! After that revenue increase look at cutting what needs to be cut. I bet it will be much easier to do.

  • Owen Strand

    Are parks really so vital and important that closing any of them would be cataclysmic? Are we really to believe that parks, trails, and various recreational activities are so important that they become untouchable in the budget? If there is any kind of hierarchy to state expenditures, are parks really at the top?

    It seems to be another issue where funding a department at the same level as last time or not prooviding the desired increase is immediately labeled a cut and condemned as catastrophic.

  • Paul- St. Paul

    “So, not getting your automatic increase is now a cut? – Posted by GaryF

    Gary F- Can I mark you down for being on board with the idea that letting Bush’s tax cuts expire as scheduled would not have been a tax increase?

  • Kirk

    I have always considered ITASKA the crown jewel of our state park system.

    In reply to those asking whether our state parks are that essential, the answer is yes. Have we really lost touch with our souls to the extent that we could even question this?!

  • DNA

    WTF? Which of one’s favorite appendages or organs would one want to keep (or to preserve in formaldehyde)?

  • Janet Rose

    All the parks along the North Shore. Every year I make my way up to Grand Marais, stopping at all the State Parks along the way. From the number of cars in the parking lots, I’m not the only one.

  • matt

    tim pawlenty said we have a budget surplus so why do we people keep talking about all these necessary cuts? why aren’t we basking in the glow of the surplus he left us?

  • Floyd

    Winston Chruchill got it right when he felt it was not the business of government to provide parks! Instead, he offered that parks should be supported by subscription, much like Public Radio is. Individuals that want to support our parks should pay a subscription fee based on the actual operating costs. Those parks that don’t make it should be privatized or sold off. It’s time we reign in our bloated national, state, county and municipal park systems.

  • Craig

    As a Kid, I greatly enjoyed going to Hartley Field in Duluth Mn.

    It was such a wonderful place to hike and view nature

    they mad it into the Hartley Nature Center!

    Added a 2 million dollar Buliding. Staffed the building. Put restrictions on trails and useage. Some places you can now see Deer behind temporary fences instead of out in the open?

    Did I mention they now charge a fee for access?

    I don’t visit Hartley very often now.

    Something is definitely lost for my children.

    I believe the same for Parks. Keep them open and free to discover!

  • Steve the Cynic

    Bill A., I’m glad you told us that was sarcasm, because I wouldn’t have been able to tell otherwise. Sadly, there are folks out there, such as the Tea Party mad hatters, who are seriously proposing exactly that sort of thing.

  • Jody

    State parks are nice as are state trails, state forests, and nation parks, canoe areas and national forests. Not including county parks some of which are substantial there are over 500,000 acres of parks in the state and 5 million acres of forests.

    As an alternative to closing facilities I would propose raising fees – making sure everyone who accesses a park, a trail, and or a forest camp site pays something. Data from the DNR profiles users as people with above average income. Minimizing the services in state parks is probably okay to. Make camping at all but the most congested parks like forests – honor pay system.

    Which parks to partially close for camping, or operate like state forests or by concessionaires :

    Tower -Sudan

    Split Rock Creek

    Mille Lac Kathio (camping may 15 through august 15)


    Rice Lake

    Hill Annex

    Franz Jevene

    I would make arrangements for Metropolitan or Minneapolis St. Paul to assume control of Fort Snelling. If has no camping and functions more like a city park.

  • Tim

    The Minnesota State Parks include spectacular, charismatic places like Gooseberry Falls, Itasca or Jay Cooke. But there are many subdued gems like Rice Lake near Owatonna, Crow Wing near Brainerd or Blue Mounds near Luverne. Each has its place in our state’s recreation landscape and deserves to be funded adequately for the enjoyment of all of our citizens. I love Minnesota for its quality of life and I am proud that we have one of the nation’s best state park systems. Let’s keep it that way!

  • jody

    Let me revise the list based on a quick look at the size and use data.

    Carley 209 acres less than 20000 visitors

    Franz Jevne 108 acres

    Hill Annex 10,000 visits

    John A Latsch 15,000 visits redundant with Great River Bluffs

    Big Stone (add to Corps of Engineers Rec area?)

    Monson Lake 187 acres 21,000 visitors

    Schoolcraft 225 acres 5,500 visitors

    The public interest in these facilities managed more cost effectively by someone other than DNR parks.

  • Audrey Ferrey

    Hey, close ’em all down. We have stadiums. And about to get another, hallelujah! They are obviously far superior places to spend quality time.

    Stan–tsk tsk tsk. Your spelling is atrocious. Go stand in the corner.

    When is a rant not a rant? When a Republican is doing the ranting.

    Y’all have a good day. 🙂

  • Warren Krohn

    If the DNR doesn’t have the money to operate their property, maybe they should sell some of the property [prime farm land] that has been taken out of crop production and put into Wild Life Habitat in the last 10 to 15 years. The land that the DNR has acquired that used to grow food for people, livestock, ethanol and of coarse wild life now will have native grass and wild flowers on it. This is all fine except much of this land is along roads where I drive my vehicles at night and I generally see them in my headlights until they go dark and the deer goes flying over my windshield , but not until doing $5,000 worth of damage first. Every time the DNR takes 160 acres off the tax roll [Oh they didn’t tell you that they don’t pay taxes?] it costs our local government about $3200 each and every year forever. This is money that would have gone toward local schools, law enforcement etc. You get the point. As for people slamming the Republicans, I think it is time We start running the government like a business and stop giving Dollars away that we don’t have. Minnesota has one of the highest tax rates in the United States, thats not necessarily a good thing unless you are looking for another hand out. Just maybe, the people using our great park system need to pay more for that privilege. People have no problem paying for cellphones, internet, athletic events,or $4.00 gas. What would be wrong with paying for what each person enjoys? The problem with government [ thats us ] is everyone wants to receive, but to many [ most people] want someone else to Pay! Instead of giving our Grand Children the ” bill to pay ” , why don’t We [ that includes everyone ] Pay It Forward ?This is not a Democrat / Republican problem. It’s our’s!!! We nee to give and take.

  • Audrey F.

    I cannot help but note, while reading the many and interesting opinions, that the entries from the conservatives amongst us seem to be consistently full of misspellings and grammatical errors. Go figure.

  • Steve the Cynic

    It’s a sign of a weak imagination if you can think of only one way to spell a word, Audrey. 🙂

  • Kris with a horse


    Zumbro Bottoms Mgmt Unit

    Ft. Ridgely State Park

    Upper Sioux Agency State Park

    Maplewood State Park

    MN Valley State Trail

    Sand Dunes State Park

    I and several of my friends use the State Parks (and County and Municipal Parks) several times a year. Horseback riders pay $32 (beyond the other fees) a year to use the trails. We also have various trail clubs (ex: Minnesota Trail Riders Association) that contribute money and volunteers to help with the maintenance of our parks. Just speaking of the horse industry, we contribute MILLIONS to the state and local economy (just ask my husband). We need to have a place to ride, trailriders make up a huge segment of that industry. I have to believe, too, that other recreational users (non-horse campers, snowmobilers, ATV users) also contribute to the economy. I’ve always thought that parks are our country’s greatest resources. Don’t take our State Parks for granted. I am originally from Texas..for such a big state, they sure don’t have very many parks…

    One thing I could suggest: Charge our Wisconsin neighbors what they charge MN for using their parks…We pay higher out of State camping fees, out of state trail fees and out of State parking fees to use Wisconsin Parks…and I am glad to pay them to enjoy a good park.

  • jody

    I also trail ride on horses and find myself using forests, county parks and trails more than state parks.

    Parks to keep open;

    Fort Snelling



    Lake Maria


    And the ones in SW Minnesota where there are limited public land alternatives.