Potential state shutdown could foil outdoor plans
St. Paul A state government shutdown on July 1 could throw a monkey wrench into Fourth of July weekend plans for many Minnesotans. Closures of state-operated facilities would occur and travel on highways could be delayed or even dangerous.
State officials are releasing little information about what may occur if a shutdown becomes reality. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT), for instance, hasn't said what will happen to highway road construction projects.
"The Department of Transportation is working with the Department of Administration's coordinating committee and will release more details later," said Maureen Talarico MN/DOT public information officer in Duluth. "That's all I can tell you."
At the Minnesota DNR, Communications Manager Dennis Stauffer says the agency has followed a directive from the Governor's Office to determine what functions are essential to health, safety, and environmental protection. The DNR will continue to staff fish hatcheries and provide a level of wildfire protection. Virtually all other DNR operations will cease.
This means that state parks may be closed during one of the busiest times of year. State conservation officers will not be on duty to enforce fish and game laws or provide water safety. Stauffer says the agency is concerned about the lack of protection for fish and wildlife, but is following the legal directives outlined in the state constitution.
"Hopefully, it (the possible shutdown) will be a brief enough period of time that it won't be a threat to the resource," Stauffer said.
Persons with reservations for camping in state parks may need to find other places to pitch a tent. For busy weekends, there are about 3,000 reservations per night. It costs $7.25 to make a reservation, plus campers must pay the first night's fee, which ranges from $7 to $15, depending on the site.
"We're telling people to hang on to their reservations and not cancel," says state parks spokesperson Carmen Diestler. "If the parks are closed, they will get a refund."
Fishing and hunting seasons will remain open, and people will be able to purchase licenses through the electronic licensing system, says the DNR's Tom Keefe. The electronic licensing is largely handled by private vendors. However, the notification of successful bear hunt applicants, scheduled for early July, could be delayed.
The moose hunt lottery, also scheduled for July, could be delayed as well.
Lifetime licenses, which are sold directly by the DNR, will not be available, nor will other DNR over-the-counter products. Boat registration, which is handled by deputy registrars, will be available.