Minnesota's state parks are something we should rightly be proud of, but some of the facilities servicing them are in desperate need of an upgrade.
That's according to Governor Mark Dayton, who on Tuesday made a point of highlighting the proposed Department of Natural Resources funding from the $1.5 billion public works bonding bill he revealed at the start of March.
He's asking the Legislature to approve a $130 million package of improvements to DNR buildings and other infrastructure across Minnesota's 66 state parks and 9 recreation areas.
His office says that 192 of the DNR's 2,700 buildings are in "crisis or unacceptable condition," while a further 520 are in a "poor condition."
As well as recreation, this can also affect business, with some forest road or trail bridges weight restricted due to deterioration, closing them off from logging trucks and grooming vehicles.
Some parks are without drinking water
Dayton's bill, he says, would invest $130 million to "maintain and restore" recreational buildings, access roads, campgrounds, boat launches and fishing piers across the state park system.
Some of the urgent work required includes restoring drinking water and flushing toilets at Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth, after the main water line failed this winter.
Similar work is needed at Blue Mounds State Park, near Luverne, which has been without potable water for several years, while wastewater treatment systems need replacing at Itasca and Myre Big Island state parks.
DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr says $35 million of the $130 million could be spent right now fixing broken buildings, and many more hundreds of millions are likely needed for ongoing repairs over the next decade.
"Some basic services for people—access to clean drinking water and functional bathrooms—are now not being met at DNR facilities," said Landwehr. "That is just simply unacceptable for a state whose $13 billion tourism economy is based on high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities."