A premier state park opportunity

A proposed state park on Lake Vermillion should be strongly considered.

It’s not often that state parks grab a lot of attention down at the State Capitol, but a proposal for the formation of a new state park on the shores of Lake Vermillion has become a hotly debated topic. Beautiful Lake Vermillion has long been a premier destination for fishermen from across the state, and now the state of Minnesota has an opportunity to acquire state park land on the lake’s eastern shore. This is a golden opportunity for our state, and every reasonable effort should be made to secure the site.

The land where the park would sit is currently owned by U.S. Steel, but the company is willing to sell to the state for $20 million. Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants to acquire the land by using a special account with money designated for the environment, but legislative leaders say that the money should come from elsewhere. Right now it’s hard to say if the new state park will become a reality.

There are still several weeks remaining before the state Department of Natural Resources will announce the negotiated price for the land, but there isn’t any time to spare. Money needs to be dedicated to this project before the legislative session ends. U.S. Steel could certainly find another buyer for the land, and more fishing resorts would be profitable in that location. This seems to be an unprecedented opportunity for the state to acquire land that could be appreciated by all Minnesotans, and it is a supremely beautiful location.

It will be a shame if the plan falls victim to bad circumstances. If this proposal had been on the table during last year’s legislative session, money would have quickly been designated for this cause. Now with a billion dollar deficit, there are no guarantees. With just over a month left in this year’s legislative session, we hope the governor and Legislature can find a way to create the proposed park. It would be a treasure for the state for years to come.