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Boreal Community Media

Reports of surge in North Shore visitors defying Governor Walz' advice

Apr 22, 2020 06:33AM ● By Editor
Minnesota State Parks remain open but Governor Walz has advised all outdoor recreation activities should be conducted 'close to home'.  Photo: Duluth News Tribune

By Boreal Community Media - April 22, 2020

Minnesota Governor Walz 'Stay at Home' order was extended last week to May 4 and while it does not preclude outdoor recreation activities, he has repeatedly stated in daily news conferences that Minnesota residents should not drive long distances – especially to Northern Minnesota where healthcare facilities are scarce.

However, DNR Conservation Officer Reports from the last week show that many Minnesotans are disregarding the Governor's advice and are visiting state parks and other areas on the North Shore and other areas in Northern Minnesota.  Many are entering state parks are doing so without the required permits.

In weekly updates provided by DNR conservation officers in the Northland, several make reference to parks being extremely busy over the past week, as drivers descend on the North Shore, many of whom entering state parks without permits.

Tofte based conservation officer (CO) Kyland Hill reported that "State park vehicle passes were again hard to come by as people continue to enter the park without a permit. A few people were also contacted for camping violations. Even though they saw the signs stating the campgrounds were closed, they took the risk and ultimately received citations."

One of the other North Shore CO officers, Thomas Wahlstrom based in Grand Marais, noted: "A large influx of people from the Twin Cities and surrounding area flooded the state parks over the weekend. Very few people decided to buy a park pass."

Two Harbors-based CO Don Murray reported "large numbers of travelers from far and wide across the North Shore over the weekend."

While the state park system is open during the Stay at Home shutdown, it is with "day use only" in place as camping and overnight lodging is banned.

"State park use was very high again over the weekend and compliance with permit purchase was improved. The majority of visitors to the North Shore are still from well outside the area", reported Mary Manning, CO from the Hovland, MN area.

CO David Schottenbauer from the Silver Bay area reported "State parks remained very busy with several vehicle pass and illegal-camping violations noted. A reminder that state park and state forest campgrounds are closed."

On Saturday, Governor Walz eased restrictions on outdoor recreation allowing golf courses and driving ranges, bait shops, marinas and public trails to reopen.

The Governor’s order still maintains that citizens travel for recreation close to home. The order also stresses that everyone continues to observe a safe social distance.

“The only way this is going to work, even with something like golf or shooting ranges or trails, is if we follow those rules: washing hands, stay home if you are sick, cough into your sleeve, wear a mask,” Gov. Walz said, according to WCCO-TV news reports

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