Reports of increased number of 'disrespectful' Minnesota North Shore visitors trashing campsites

Locals say most people have been great, but there are higher levels of disrespect this year.
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North Shore camping

A campsite at Eckbeck Campground in the Finland State Forest along the North Shore. 

Locals in northeastern Minnesota say they're tired of seeing examples of people visiting the North Shore and leaving it a mess. 

Nina Simonowicz of North Shore Visitor wrote on Facebook July 1 what she called an "unpleasant update," saying that while most North Shore visitors have been wonderful, but others have have been disrespectful. 

"Last night someone emptied their camper septic off the side of the road I live on, [2.5 miles from a major municipal campground]," she wrote. "There have been lots of other less disrespectful acts. This one kinda put me over the edge."

The number of daily visitors to the North Shore has rivaled what is typical reserved for holidays, a local tourism expert told the Star Tribune. The DNR's weekly conservation officer reports show that "state parks were checked with near-capacity crowds at many of them" in the Lake Superior area. 

Bryan Hansel, an award-winning landscape photographer, said he's witnessed an "abnormally high level of disrespect shown to the land and people who live here." 

"I've seen remote, small and often unknown campsites just trashed and left for us to clean up. People have been camping wherever they want and just making campfire rings in parking lots," Hansel wrote on Facebook.

"Some dude just camped out in the parking lot of the Fishing Museum the other day for a couple of days. Many of the campgrounds aren't open this year, so you need to plan ahead. You can't just come up and expect to find a campsite this year."

Hansel said he's seen 14-inch white pines chopped down, in addition to visitors digging up trees and hauling them away. Other issues include people failing to pick up dog poop on beaches, parties that leave beaches littered with garbage. 

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Simonowicz echoed Hansel's statement about some visitors being rude, in addition to failing to wear face masks even though Cook County doesn't have any ICU beds, which are critical for vulnerable patients in the event of disease transmission. Simonowicz is urging all future visitors to plan ahead, and use her guidelines: 

  • Don't camp in a closed spot because you didn't plan.
  • Don't yell at the shop owner because they are closing and had to cut off the wait line.
  • Don't curse out the staff for requiring masks.
  • Don't take it out on the front desk because the State Park lots were full.
  • Don't think you can skip precautions because you are on vacation or because we have a small amount of COVID cases.

As of July 6, Cook County, Minnesota's northeastern-most county, has one confirmed case of COVID-19. Neighboring Lake County has six cases, while St. Louis County, which includes Duluth, has 180 cases and 15 deaths. 

"We understand it's not easy for you, but come on, we're all in this together," she wrote. 

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