(KMSP) - Two new campgrounds will open in Minnesota this summer at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine and Whitewater state parks.
The Minnesota DNR also announced a new state water trail that will be open to canoes and kayaks. The 20-mile Shell Rock River State Water Trail begins at Fountain Lake in Freeborn County and passes through Myre-Big Island State Park en route to the Iowa border.
Mill Towns State Trail. The DNR has acquired 6 miles of unused rail trail and completed two trail connections for the Mill Towns State Trail: a bridge across the Cannon River to Lake Byllesby Regional Park and a Highway 52 underpass.
Bison range: A yearling bull has joined the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd at Minneopa State Park. He and other bison can often be seen on a two-mile drive through the park’s new bison range.
Make maple syrup: You can learn how to make maple syrup in the new sugar shack at Maplewood State Park.
Increased fees proposed
The DNR is pushing for more funding at the Capitol to fund the maintenance, expansion and promotion of state parks and trails. Operations and maintenance costs are paid for out of the DNR's general fund allocation and user fees, which have not kept up with rising demands on the state’s parks and trails.
To cut costs, the DNR has shortened camping seasons at several state parks, reduced winter services such as ski trail grooming, and postponed some repairs to facilities.
Earlier this year, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton recommended an increase in the DNR’s general fund allocation along with user fee increases. Proposed fee increases include:
State park vehicle permit increases of $1/daily and $5/annually;
Registration fee increases for ATVs ($5/year), snowmobiles ($10/year) and boats ($1-$15/year, depending on size of craft); and
Cross-country ski pass increases of $2/daily and $5/annually