$130 million requested for DNR infrastructure

Published 8:34 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

By John Enger

MPR News/90.1 FM

Governor Mark Dayton is asking the Legislature for $130 million to rebuild crumbling infrastructure at state parks across Minnesota.

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The DNR says more than a quarter of its buildings are in unacceptable, or poor condition. More than 100 miles of trails are falling apart, and Jay Cooke State Park, outside Duluth, has no drinking water or working toilets, because the main water line failed this winter.

The funding is part of Dayton’s 2018 Public Works bill. He says the Department of Natural Resources needs the money for sweeping improvements to buildings, trails and camp facilities.

“These projects are essential for protecting our environment and improving recreational opportunities for Minnesotans,” he said in a statement.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr says $35 million could be spent right now, just to replace broken building components. According to a recent facilities assessment, hundreds of millions more are needed over the next ten years to replace aging systems — like wastewater treatment at Itasca State Park.

“Some basic services for people—access to clean drinking water and functional bathrooms—are now not being met at DNR facilities,” Landwehr said. “That is just simply unacceptable for a state whose $13 billion tourism economy is based on high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities.”

The funding would also cover critical repairs to DNR fish hatcheries, including the Lanesboro facility, which supplies thousands of trout for anglers.