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Minnesota DNR reopens some campgrounds, state parks and forests

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The Lost 40 sits in the heart of the Chippewa National Forest. (Bria Barton | Bemidji Pioneer)
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BEMIDJI -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has begun reopening its campgrounds at state parks, state forests and recreation areas in a phased approach that began Monday, June 1.

Previously, only dispersed campsites were legally open; however, on Monday the DNR anticipated having about 20 to 30 of its campgrounds within state parks, recreation areas and forest campgrounds ready to open, with limited services.

By June 8, the DNR plans to reopen another 20 to 30 campgrounds and lodging facilities, the rest of its remote campsites, and many of its contact/ranger stations.

And by June 15, the agency expects to have the rest of the campgrounds open and most areas available with full services.

Additionally, on June 12, the Chippewa National Forest will open select developed campgrounds using a phased approach. Included in the first phase are Mosomo Point, O-Ne-Gum-E, Deer Lake, Winnie, and South Pike Bay. Until then, all developed campgrounds and other recreation facilities remain temporarily closed.

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“We are looking forward to opening these sites for public use and enjoyment. Camping and recreating on the Chippewa National Forest is an activity individuals and families enjoy experiencing every summer,” Darla Lenz, Chippewa National Forest supervisor, said in a release. “While we understand there is excitement from the public to return to recreation areas, please continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines on staying safe.”

At this time, visitors to the Chippewa National Forest are able to enjoy campfires, dispersed camping, access to trails/ trailheads, and forest roads (identified on the motor vehicle use map) are open for scenic drives. Boat ramps are open to provide fishing access unless they are located within a closed campground, a release said.

Campers should come prepared with their own hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, paper towels, toilet paper and other supplies for use at their campsites and available bathrooms.

The DNR will leave the following facilities and amenities closed until further notice: beaches, pond-pools, housekeeping cabins, visitor centers, group centers, fire towers, large-group facilities (such as amphitheaters), group tours and other scheduled interpretive programs.

Minnesotans are encouraged to use the following guidelines to minimize potential points of virus transmission while traveling:

  • Travel as directly to the destination as possible, and minimize stops along the way.
  • Attempt to bring all needed supplies with you.
  • If you do need to stop for gas or supplies, wear a cloth face covering.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching common surfaces (gas pumps, door handles, shared bathrooms, etc.).
  • Do not travel if sick.

Most DNR-operated campsites must be reserved in advance. Go to dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/reservations.html and remember that a state park sticker also is required to enter most parks.

Bria Barton covers travel and tourism for Forum News Service and is based at the Bemidji Pioneer. A South Carolina native and USC grad, she can be found exploring Minnesota’s abundance of towns, food and culture. Follow her on Instagram @briabarton.
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