Tourists Hit Minnesota State Parks Despite Government Shut Down

By KBJR News 1

July 3, 2011 Updated Jul 3, 2011 at 10:39 PM CDT

Castle Danger, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)
The staff at Gooseberry State Park had no problems with illegal parkers this weekend.
There were no cars on the grounds and there was no staff.
Minnesota's government shut down has also shut down the state park system.
Cars were lined up for a half mile in each direction of the park gate, though, as tourists visited the falls anyway.
Bill Baker from the Cities was one of them.

"Even if you are locked out, the North Shore has so much to offer." said Baker.

Steve Rokahr from South Dakota made plans for a North Shore motorcycle trip months ago.

"We planned this trip clear back in February and March." said Rokahr.

Rokahr had planned to visit every state park along the North Shore on his ride but the government shut down has slowed that agenda.

"There's no staff around to help you. You have to poke around yourself to find out where to go since we've never been here before." said Rokahr.

With park closed signs everywhere, are Baker, Rokahr and the hundreds of other people roaming Gooseberry trespassing?
The state parks are run by the Department of Natural Resources and their website doesn't say that visiting the parks is illegal but they do strongly recommend that people stay away.
On Saturday, there was a medical emergency at Gooseberry and on Sunday, there was a water rescue needed at nearby Tettegouche State Park.
Without staff working, people at the parks are dependent on friends and strangers in an emergency.
When the government emergency is over, some of the people sneaking into the parks this weekend will be back for an official tour.
Lynn Woodland will be one of those.

"Oh yes, this is beautiful! I'll definitely be back." said Woodland.

At Gooseberry State Park near Castle Danger, Dave Anderson, the Northland's News Center.

Though most DNR employees have been laid off by the Minnesota government shut down, conservation officers remain on duty due to the state's critical services clause.

From the Minnesota DNR website: "We strongly advise the public not to enter the grounds of any state park during the shutdown. We are concerned about serious health, safety and security issues if visitors enter parks when there are no restroom facilities, water, and staff available. For example, 911 calls might not be possible due to lack of cell phone coverage."