Entrance fee increase is essential to keep state parks healthy

Loyal visitors likely won’t be deterred by a slight increase in entrance fees to state parks.

Keelia Moeller

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources has asked lawmakers to raise entrance fees to state parks in order to keep their services at current levels.

In response, Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed bumping the current vehicle entrance fee from $5 to $6 and the 12-month fee from $25 to $30. This simple change could generate a great deal of money. Roughly 8 million people visit Minnesota’s state parks each year, and this small budget increase would generate up to $2.3 million over the next two years.

This extra revenue would increase the quality of the state parks themselves, allowing park and trail services to give their visitors the full quality they desire. For example, Minneopa State Park plans to use some of the funds to introduce bison to the park. Other parks hope to offer yurt and paddleboard rentals or classes on camping, paddling and climbing.

Visitors have displayed their support for the bill change, and there has been little to no opposition among lawmakers.

Although state parks are not among the top-prioritized issues in Minnesota, this bill will give them the attention — and the funding — they deserve.

I always cherish my time at Minnesota’s parks. Afton, Gooseberry Falls and Itasca state parks are among my favorite destinations. These are naturally beautiful areas that, in an increasingly industrialized state, we need to keep clean, safe and uncontaminated.

Whether we like it or not, maintaining these areas and keeping them fit for visitors costs a great deal of money. Surely a $1 increase in entrance fees is not enough to deter visitors from coming to see the natural beauty that the state of Minnesota has to offer.