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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have any of you guys been following this story? On one hand, it's great to see land conserved for generations to enjoy...especially when it's a gem like this land. BUT, they are talking costs ranging around $50 million to make this happen. Seriously ***?

For comparison, the MN duck stamp has raised $16 million in the 30 years it's been around. Duck hunters have been rallying at the capitol the past couple years...wanting more money to be put into wetland/upland conservation. And nothing gets done. The squeeky wheel remains squeeky.

Yet, a state park is proposed and legislators jump all over the possibility of dumping tens of $millions into it? What gives? Who is pushing this agenda so successfully????

Think of what $50 million could do for the farmland region in MN? Think of all the WMA acres that could be purchased. And let's be honest, what region needs it the most? The NE part of the state or the Ag part?

With declining hunter numbers it makes the need for quality public land to hunt even greater. There would be more dollars made if this money went to public hunting that if it were a state park. If the DNR cares about their future funding, they should openly oppose this acquisition and propose putting the money into hunting acres.
Work continues on potential state park by Lake Vermilion

By Joe Albert
Associate Editor
Thursday, January 24, 2008 12:41 PM CST
St. Paul - If land on Lake Vermilion is to be purchased and developed into Minnesota's newest state park, the coming months hold the key.

A list of recommendations given last week to Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner, by a task force that's been looking at the issues surrounding the potential park likely will form part of the basis for discussion.

"They will be used as a basis as we go through the legislative session to talk about the park and what will be in there," said Jim Willford, a retired DNR park manager who worked with the task force.

If the Legislature approves funding for the park - DNR officials still are in negotiations with the landowner, U.S. Steel, about what the 3,000 acres of land will cost - the task force recommendations will help as a management plan is crafted, he said.

"Before we can spend any dollars for that park, we have to have an established management plan," Willford said.

It remains unclear how the purchase of the land and the development of the park would be funded, but DNR officials say they remain supportive of an idea whereby money from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust would be used to pay off a bond that would be used to purchase the park.

The task force included a good "cross section" of the community around where the park would be located, including county, city and township officials, as well as other interested groups like the Sportsman's Club of Lake Vermilion, Willford said.

"In everything I have heard locally, in everything I have heard from the task force, I think people are very interested in that piece of property, and they are very interested in not over-developing the lake," he said.

U.S. Steel plans to develop the land into a housing development if the state doesn't buy it.

Recommendations from the task force report include:

� Preserve the integrity of the lake by keeping it as natural as possible. Protect the shorelines, steep slopes, wetlands, and scenic vistas.

� Provide low-impact, land-based recreation activities such as cross-country skiing and hiking. Also, develop fewer roads by having biking trails and bus service within the park. The park could become a world-class cross-country skiing destination, and a good trail could bring skiers from a long way away.

� Avoid development along the shoreline, and design roads that avoid impacts to steep slopes and wetlands.

� Some portion of the property should be developed for camping, day use, management, and interpretive activities. There should be boat-in and hike-in opportunities.

� Ensure balance between keeping the lakeshore largely unspoiled, yet still providing access and use of the lake. There should be primitive campsites, as well as camper cabins.

The report also outlines issues and concerns related to the park, including its effect on the local tax base and its effect on traffic on Highway 169 and in the local communities.

The DNR still is accepting comments on the park at its web site, http://www.dnr.state.mn.us
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I don't know where the heck this comes from. It may not look like it from the NE next to my name, but I am MN born and bred - albeit temporarily waylaid in this state so I think that gives me a bit of a different perspective on the state of recreational land in MN.

First of all, what sort of scorecard are you using that the only people utilizing the services of the MN DNR are duck hunters? "Seriously?"

Habitat is a serious issue in MN - I won't argue that - but to 2004, 26% of the population went camping while 13% of the population went hunting. TWICE AS MANY PEOPLE participated in camping, saying nothing of the larger percentage of day users within city, state, and regional parks. I'd love to see a bigger piece of the pie as a hunter and a fisherman, but please quantify what part anyone is ENTITLED to.

The duck stamp - excellent thing, as is the IDEA of dedicated funding, but thats precisely the issue here isn't it. "The squeaky wheel remains squeaky" - Dedicated funding is currently in the legislature and quite possibly will be put to voters this fall. good lord willing I will be back in time to vote on that - I don't think including the arts is a perfect solution, but I am open to any better solution that will garner the support of both urban and rural voters - because in truth that's what the issue will need to pass.

Minnesotans value natural resources in the form of activity opportunities and physical spaces such as parks. Land costs money as you well know. It's easy for legislators to push parks because a great many people will continue to support them. If it bothers you so much, contact your representative.

What do I think $50 million can do? Let me explain something I don't think Minnesotans understand in general. The opportunities afforded you and me as hunters and outdoors enthusiasts in the state of MN far outweigh those available to me currently as a resident of the state of NE. The DNR should by no means be immune to criticism, but dollar for dollar, you are getting far more, and the residents of MN are far more likely to support development of park resources than many other states.

I would love to see the DNR support hunting and fishing. I pay attention, as I hope others do, and can tell you that it appears that they ARE working at building up participation in these areas. The reality is, we are NOT the only one's, however, who make use of the natural resources of the state of MN.

I challenge you to look beyond your own interests. It is easy to think that we are the only ones out there - because after all we are out in the marshes and woods at dawn -when few others may be. But it takes far more than me to support the day to day operations of a park - of any kind. If you have a breakdown of this $50 million budget and what parts you take issue with it, I am open to hearing the problems, but in a generation where our children are not nearly as active as we have been, I am also a realist and see any child in the woods as a possible steward of the land.

-Erik
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Kiskadinna said:
First of all, what sort of scorecard are you using that the only people utilizing the services of the MN DNR are duck hunters? "Seriously?"
I never said that. There's lots of people who use the DNR's services...far too many IMO. There's lots who don't pay anything for it. Bird watchers are a good example of peope who use the resource for free. As a growing demographic (compared to the shrinking demographic of hunters and fisherman) when are they going to start chipping in and paying for their use?

My point is, one of the main groups of people who are funding the DNR are hunters. Hell, the DNR is even using funds from hunting licenses to pay for fisheries...which simply isn't right.

My argument here is that MN has plenty of similar oppurtunites this park would provide. There isn't a big enough shortage (if any) of places to camp to justify spending this type of dough for this park.

Twice as many people camped as those who hunted, why? Besides the obvious answer of "there are more campers than hunters" what else could be the reason? Maybe it's because there's an abundance of quality places to camp and a lack of quality places to hunt?

In ideal world, there'd be funding for everything. I'm a realist too, and I think getting a kid out in nature period is going to create a steward for the land in the future, which is a good thing however you want to look at it. But, I also believe hunters are the best stewards...and their numbers are the ones in decline. So I'd rather invest the money where it is more needed IMO; hunting land. Since they are also the ones who do more to fund the DNR, you'd think they'd agree just from a financial standpoint.

Conservation of land is a good thing no matter what. So if this park does happen, I'm not going to think it's a waste. I just think we need to prioritize where are dollars are going and ask the question, "is this really the best way to spend it?"
 

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You make some very good points - and I can appreciate that some people are actually thinking about what goes on in our state.
That being said, I don't think it's a complete statement to talk about parks and parts of the population that DON't Pay fees to the DNR . I would be interested to see the breakdown in park user fees, but generally park users - pay to use the facilities through parking permits or other usage fees. I have long believed that birders should be expected to add their financial support to our natural resources, and from what I have read, the hobby of birding is reporting participation increases - so naturally if there is a way to increase their dollar contribution that they will support - I'm for it.

As I recall, their was discussion recently at some meetings regarding just the issue you mentioned of hunters subsidizing fisherman - I agree that that shouldnt be happening to any great extent, and the DNR has a responsibility to maintain balances in that case.

What really scares me is the future of CRP land. Here in NE, it's all we really have access too - save for a few SRA's here and there - and don't even get me started on what NE considers a state park. Minnesotans are very fortunate with regards to park and hunting land - and for me it took leaving the state for a couple years to realize that.

-Erik
 

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I feel that it should be part of the bonding bill, and we all help pay for it. $10 per person across Mn seems like a worth while deal to persue IMO.
 
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