It seems like summer came way early to us with the beautiful spring weather we began enjoying in February.
The state’s greenery came early and has been enjoyed by many and will continue to be part of our summer plans as we head to some of Minnesota’s 73 state parks.
State parks officially open on Saturday, June 9.
Minnesota state parks have been strategically located throughout the state to provide a state park within 50 miles for each Minnesotans.
In addition to the state parks, Minnesota has seven state recreation areas, eight state waysides, and 22 state trails in the Minnesota state park system, totaling approximately 267,000 acres (1,080 km).
Find out more about the history of our state parks and locate a complete listing and a map featuring all of the state parks by going to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Minnesota_state_parks
Let’s read the introduction about the state parks on the Wikipedia site:
“A Minnesota state park is an area of land in the U.S. state of Minnesota preserved by the state for its natural, historic, or other resources.
“Each was created by an act of the Minnesota Legislature and is maintained by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“The Minnesota Historical Society operates sites within some of them.
“The park system began in 1891 with Itasca State Park when a state law was adopted to ‘maintain intact, forever, a limited quantity of the domain of this commonwealth…in a state of nature.’
“Minnesota’s state park system is the second oldest in the United States, after New York’s.
“The most recent park created is Lake Vermilion State Park, created in 2010.
“Currently the Parks range in size from Franz Jevne State Park with 118 acres (48 ha) to Saint Croix State Park with 34,037 acres (13,774 ha).
“Two parks include resources listed as National Natural Landmarks (Big Bog State Recreation Area and Itasca State Park) and six parks encompass National Historic Landmarks (Charles A. Lindbergh, Fort Snelling, Mille Lacs Kathio, St. Croix, Soudan Underground Mine, and Split Rock Lighthouse State Parks).
“Thirty-six sites or districts among 29 Minnesota state parks are on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), 21 of which are developments constructed by New Deal-era job creation programs in the 1930s.
“Minnesota’s first attempt to create a state park came in 1885, when a 173-acre (70 ha) park was authorized to preserve Minnehaha Falls.
“The effort was delayed by legal appeals from the various landowners of the desired parkland, and by the time those were settled in favor of the state in 1889, Minnesota no longer had the money to purchase the land.
“Instead the city of Minneapolis fronted the cash.
“Owned and operated by Minneapolis, Minnehaha State Park was ultimately absorbed as a city park.
“Minnesota tried again in 1891, authorizing a state park around Lake Itasca both for its recreational opportunities and to protect the source of the Mississippi River.
“Interstate Park on the St. Croix River was created in 1895.
“Other sites were added over the next two decades, but with an inconsistent vision.
“Modest tracts of scenic land were acquired in Minneopa and Jay Cooke State Parks, but much effort was also expended on creating historical monuments relating to the Dakota War of 1862 and the Great Hinckley Fire.
“Moreover, most of the sites were being administered by the state auditor, who had many other duties.
“Itasca State Park, meanwhile, was being administered as a state forest.
“In 1923, state auditor Ray P. Chase excoriated this situation, calling for wiser selection of park lands and a dedicated commissioner.
“Chase’s comments had an impact, and two years later the Department of Conservation was created to manage the state’s natural resources, including the state parks.
“Originally part of the forestry division, the state parks received their own division in 1935 to take advantage of federal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
“In 1971, the department became the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“The state parks were closed for almost three weeks in July 2011 due to a shutdown of the state government.”
To search for information on a state park near you, go to the Explore Minnesota website at http://tinyurl.com/3j4jmmm
The Explore Minnesota website has some great links under Outdoors & Nature which include: adventure trips, biking, hiking, birding and wildlife viewing, fishing and hunting, horse rental/trail rides, gardens, orchards and farms and nature centers.
Find a state park by location on a very helpful state map found on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/map.html
The DNR website includes many links organized by these groupings:
• Activities: Events calendar; I Can! Programs; Summer guide; Stay overnight; Cave and mine tours; Geocaching; Clubs; for kids and for teachers
• Information: Permits; Reservations; Fees; Rules; Gift card; Firewood restrictions; Eco-friendly tips and Accessible Outdoors
• More about parks: Podcasts; Bird checklists; Volunteering; Parks and Trails Division; Recreation grid and Virtual tours
Minnesota has five National Park Service sites: Grand Portage National Monument, Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, North Country National Scenic Trail, Pipestone National Monument and Voyageurs National Park.
Voyageurs National Park is a United States National Park in northern Minnesota near the town of International Falls.
It was established in 1975. Former Gov. Elmer L. Andersen, who founded ECM Publishers, always said one of his proudest moments was helping establish Voyageurs national Park.
The park’s name commemorates the voyageurs, French-Canadian fur traders who were the first European settlers to frequently travel through the area.
The park was first proposed in April 1891 by the Minnesota Legislature in a resolution requesting that the president create a national park in the state.
It wasn’t until nearly 80 years later that federal legislation authorizing the creation of the park was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on Jan. 8, 1971.
Editor’s note: Howard Lestrud is ECM online managing editor.