Budget woes mean early end to camping season
Overnight stays at 24 state parks will end after Labor Day
ST. PAUL -- Overnight camping at 24 state parks, including five in southeastern Minnesota, will be shut down after Labor Day, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced.
The cutbacks are among measures the DNR is taking to solve a $13.1 million shortfall resulting from a budget reduction in the 2002 Legislature and an administrative order to cut more this summer.
Among the list of campgrounds that will be closed in the southeast region are Beaver Creek Valley near Caledonia; Carley near Plainview; Great River Bluffs near Winona; Lake Louise near Le Roy; and Rice Lake near Owatonna.
The 24 parks were chosen because they are the least used among the agency's 72 parks and recreation areas. Efforts were made to spread out the cutbacks geographically, said Bill Morrissey, director of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.
There will be no overnight use at the parks from Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day, until Memorial Day weekend next year. That includes horse camps and camper cabins.
Also closed in the south are: Beaver Creek Valley, Big Stone Lake, Carley, Fort Ridgely, Great River Bluffs, Kilen Woods, Lake Louise, Monson Lake, Rice Lake, Split Rock Creek and Upper Sioux Agency.
In the central part of the state, camping will be curtailed at Minnesota Valley and Lake Maria and Charles Lindbergh.
Other effects include reduced winter services and trail grooming in some parks.
People who have reservations at campgrounds that will be closed can change or cancel reservations at no cost. Campers who need to change or cancel reservations can contact the state park reservation service toll-free at 1-866-857-2757 or online at www.stayatmnparks.com.