Skip to main content

Small group has been illegally camping in northern Minnesota forest for 'months'

Dispersed camping isn't allowed in Minnesota for more than 14 days in the summer.

A group of campers has been living for months in Beltrami Island State Forest in violation of the state's dispersed camping law. 

According to the Minnesota DNR's conservation officer weekly report from Aug. 9, conservation officers Ben Huener and Jeremy Woinarowicz investigated a complaint of three campers in a dispersed camping area of the northern Minnesota forest who'd been there for "multiple" months.

Woinarowicz said in his report the three campers had "taken on the area as their own and had multiple state forest violations, including cutting live trees, litter and violating the dispersed camping length of stay."

In Minnesota, dispersed camping is limited to 14 days in any one section, township, and range in the summer months, according to state law.

Joe Albert, the DNR's enforcement division communications coordinator, told Bring Me The News on Monday the conservation officers are "still trying to gain compliance from the campers but note difficulty in making contact with them."

Other campers and staff members in the DNR Forestry Division informed the DNR Enforcement Division of the campers. 

At this time, no citations have been issued, Albert said. 

"Generally speaking, these rules are meant to address the problem of either someone staying too long, protecting the equal opportunity side of things (someone keeping a great spot for themselves all summer, someone claiming a spot early in the fall and keeping it though deer season) or someone basically living out in our public lands," Albert said. 

Garbage and water are also a big concern with prolonged dispersed camping because campers often leave their mess behind in the forest when they finally do leave, he noted.

"This year we’re also dealing with people burning during the burn restrictions, which is dangerous due to the extreme dry conditions," Albert added. 

Here is the DNR's website on dispersed camping in Minnesota state forests.

Beltrami Island State Forest is a 703,382-acre state forest in Lake of the Woods, Roseau and Beltrami counties. It's the second-largest state forest in the Minnesota system, and contains the headwaters for five rivers, as well as the state's largest Wildlife Management Area. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.28.52 AM

2 years since George Floyd's killing, Biden signs exec order on policing

The signing comes on the second anniversary of Floyd's murder by police in south Minneapolis.


Lutsen Mountains owner to buy Michigan ski resort

The Skinner family has operated alpine ski areas in the Midwest for 60 years.


Mayo Clinic, CDC address concerns over monkeypox in the US

The CDC does not currently think there is a significant threat to the general public.

police tape

Charges: Man killed brother, left body in homemade camper for 7 months

James Robert Hess, 48, faces second-degree murder charges for the death of his 52-year-old brother, William Harold Hess Jr.


Minnesota forecast: Hot, humid and severe storm chances

Bring Me The News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard says right now the best chance for storms looks like Sunday/Sunday night.

Thai Cultural Council of Minnesota

Minnesota's biggest Thai festival to be hosted in front of State Capitol

The Thai New Year, or Songkran, is one of the most celebrated holidays in Thailand.

police tape, crime scene

Man dies after being shot in the head in St. Cloud

Investigators believe the suspects fled the scene in a vehicle.


Uvalde school massacre: MN Democrats call for action, Republicans prayers

The tragedy in Texas has sparked different reactions from Minnesota's congressional delegation.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

St. Cloud man fires shot at police in hours-long standoff, surrenders

Shawn Lawrence Jacobs, 37, was arrested just before 4 p.m. Tuesday after he surrendered.

New baby zebra at the Como Zoo.

St. Paul's Como Zoo welcomes new baby zebra

The baby is yet to be named, and the zoo is planning an event for visitors to help with the decision.

Screen Shot 2022-05-25 at 11.06.51 AM

Pilfered peony plant prompts police probe

The peony, named Patrick, was taken from Wayzata City Hall gardens.



Ban on campfires lifted at most Superior National Forest campgrounds

The Forest Service has loosened fire restrictions amid the change in seasons.

fall foilage leaves lutsen

Here's what the drought means for fall colors in Minnesota this year

Maybe plan your leaf-peeping trips earlier than normal this year.

split rock lighthouse

Minnesota campground named among the Top 10 in the US

The spot on the North Shore came in at No. 5.

Flickr - camping tent William O'Brien State Park - Tony Webster

After a year indoors, people are flocking to MN state parks and campgrounds

Campsite occupancy rates and annual state park permit sales are up.