Gov. Dayton Requesting Funds To Repair State Parks

Activities such as parks and trails, timber sales, mining, fishing and hunting are managed by the DNR and contribute about $30 billion to Minnesota's economy.

CARLTON, Minn. – Minnesota has more than 60 state parks. Many needing serious repairs when it comes water and wastewater systems, roads and trails.

That’s why Gov. Dayton wants the legislature to grant $130 million in funding to make park repairs across the state.

If you’ve visited Jay Cooke State Park in the last few months then you may have noticed there’s no running water.

“Our main water line to the park as a whole is currently not functional since Nov. 2017,” said Jay Cooke State Park Manager Lisa Angelos.

The Oldenburg Picnic Shelter is on the National Historic Register and was built in the 30s.

“The roof is in terrible condition,” said Angelos.

That’s one of many things on the long list of much needed repairs at Jay Cooke State Park.

“An investment in facilities and taking care of the assets that we have would go a long way and the impression of the state of Minnesota to our visiting public,” said Angelos.

Almost 400,000 people visited Jay Cooke last year and close to 37,000 stayed overnight in the campgrounds, but not all visitors were able to use the bathrooms or take a shower.

“The primary inconvenience is having to use the outdoor facilities even when it was 40 below zero, this applies to the public and our staff,” said Angelos.

This is one of the 172 sanitation buildings in the park system and it’s one of the worst. It’s not American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, the showers are outdated and it’s not enough space for visitors.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a 10 year plan to make improvements. Of the 2,700 buildings in the state park system 192 are unusable.

“We really want people to have an enjoyable experience, a safe experience and recognize that getting outdoors in Minnesota is one of those things that we do as a people,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

DNR staffers say the plan is to start on the worst buildings first while also protecting and restoring historic buildings.

“We need to invest in them now, maintain these facilities and use them efficiently over time,” said Minnesota Department of Administration Commissioner Matt Massman.

In total the DNR says it will need $1.5 billion over the next ten years to fix everything. In 2017 the legislature provided $15 million in Natural Resources Asset Preservation.

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