In a scenario that is being replayed this summer in states throughout the nation due to tight public budgets, Minnesota will halt overnight camping at 24 state parks after Labor Day, the Associated Press reports.
The cutbacks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), are among measures the DNR is taking to solve a $13.1 million shortfall resulting from a budget reduction by the state’s legislature earlier this year and an administrative order to cut more this summer.
Camping will be closed at parks that are the least used among the agency’s 72 parks and recreation areas. Efforts were made to spread out the cutbacks geographically, reports Bill Morrissey, director of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.
At the 24 parks, there will be no overnight use from Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day, until Memorial Day weekend next year. That includes horse camps, camper cabins and guest houses.
The only exception will be the campground at Charles Lindbergh State Park in Little Falls, which will remain open through Sept. 8.
Dorian Grilley, executive director of the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, hopes to restore funding in the 2003 legislative session, but added that he’s not optimistic. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “I really believe the long-term integrity of our parks is being eroded bit by bit.”
In addition to the closings, other impacts will include reduced winter services and trail grooming in some parks and limited maintenance in selected state forest campgrounds. People who have reservations at campgrounds that will be closed can change or cancel reservations at no cost.