It's business as usual at state parks after shutdownState park employees got their jobs back last week when the government shutdown ended and were happy to find the ground fairly free of any signs of 20 days with no one taking care of them.
By: News-Chronicle, Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
State park employees got their jobs back last week when the government shutdown ended and were happy to find the ground fairly free of any signs of 20 days with no one taking care of them.
The Gooseberry Falls visitors center and parking area opened Thursday afternoon after the Wednesday agreement on the budget that ended the Minnesota shutdown.
Employees at Gooseberry spent the morning dealing with trash and picking up garbage from trails to get the park in top shape before visitors were officially allowed in, park manager Audrey Butts said. Park conditions were as she expected them to be after a state shutdown – as if nobody had been there to clean up for three weeks. In general, Butts was pleased with how the park looked.
Dan Lind and Rick Gradine were working on cleaning the windows of the visitors center. They spent the morning cleaning up the facilities and said everything looked pretty good. “Most of them (day hikers who were allowed in during the shutdown) were pretty respectful,” Lind said. “I expected it to be a lot worse than it is,” Gradine said.
Camping at Gooseberry opened Friday evening, as was expected at other parks along the Shore. Park employees worked on mowing the grass at campsites before campers were allowed back in. Anyone who made a campsite reservation prior to the state shutdown had their reservations honored and walk-ins were allowed.
Gooseberry did not take new reservations until Tuesday, Butts said. State parks staff will help patrons obtain reservation refunds and will then be able to rebook any unused sites.
All North Shore parks were open and ready for full use as of Monday.
Tettegouche, Temperance River and George H. Crosby Manitou welcomed their first campers Thursday but without amenities such as running water. Phil Leversedge, manager of the three parks, said 10 to 15 people claimed rustic sites at Tettegouche. “We had people arriving as soon as they saw the gates go up,” he said Thursday.
The status of Minnesota state parks, trails, and recreation areas can be tracked on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at www.mndnr.gov/reopen. A color code denotes whether parks and trails are still closed, partially open or fully open. Because of weather damage, some parks are opening much later than others.