Park closures sting state on holiday weekend

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 2, 2011 - 1:23 AM

The shutdown means campers and others won't have access to state parks and campgrounds.

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Nick Wright of New Hope packed up his family's campsite at William O'Brien State Park minutes before the scheduled 4 p.m. closing of the park due to a government shutdown Thursday.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Q Can parks be visited during the shutdown?

A The DNR says no. Parks will be closed and all buildings locked. No bathrooms will be open. No running water will be available. No help will be available in case of an emergency.

Q I have a campsite reserved, with deposit. Can I get my money back?

A Campers will receive refunds when parks reopen. No refunds can be processed now. Earlier this week, anticipating a shutdown, more than 1,000 people canceled campsite reservations for July and got deposits back.

Q Who will watch over the parks during a shutdown?

A DNR conservation officers and other law enforcement authorities. Otherwise only a handful of DNR employees and virtually none of the approximately 1,000 state park employees (about 300 full-time) are working. Even DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr is idled.

Q Will parks reopen immediately after the shutdown?

A The DNR estimates three to five days will be needed to fully reopen Minnesota's 74 state parks and recreation areas and 58 state forest campgrounds and day-use areas.

Q How can I find out when parks will open again?

A The best source will be www.mndnr.gov/reopen.

Q Is the shutdown costing DNR parks a lot of money?

A Last year on this day (Saturday) state parks took in $196,000 from 92,000 campers and day-use visitors. Over the three-day July 4th weekend in 2010, state park revenue was about $550,000. For the first week of July it was $1 million. DNR parks paid $16,000 to a vendor last week to process camper refunds.

Q What about losses to gas stations, restaurants and other businesses near parks?

A The DNR says park visitors contribute about $25 apiece daily to the state's tourism economy, which means the shutdown could cost Minnesota businesses as much as $2 million a day in revenue this holiday weekend.

 

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