Minnesota finalizes agreement for Lake Vermilion State Park

St. Paul — Gov. Tim Pawlenty and officials from U.S. Steel
Corporation today signed documents formally transferring property
on the shores of Lake Vermilion to the state of Minnesota, the
first step in creating Minnesota’s first new major state park in
more than 30 years.

The agreement includes approximately 3,000 acres of land. The
new park will provide greater public access to Lake Vermilion,
which includes 40,000 acres of water, 368 islands and 341 miles of
shoreline.  Lake Vermilion is Minnesota’s fifth largest lake and is
adjacent to a portion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the
Superior National Forest.

“Minnesota’s natural beauty is one of our state’s greatest
gifts,” Pawlenty said. “This unique opportunity to create a state
park on Lake Vermilion will give generations of Minnesotans the
opportunity to enjoy the ‘up north’ experience.”

The governor was joined at the signing ceremony today by U.S.
Steel Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer John
Goodish and U.S. Steel Real Estate President George Manos,
Minnesota DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten, legislators, and community
representatives.

“We are pleased we could reach an equitable agreement that
allows the Lake Vermilion property to become a state park for
Minnesotans – including our employees and retirees,” Goodish
said.

The new Lake Vermilion State Park will be adjacent to Soudan
Underground Mine State Park. The two state parks together will
provide more than 10 miles of shoreline (with the new park adding
more than 5 miles), and 3,700 acres of recreational
opportunities.

Plans were underway to build a housing development on the
property until U.S. Steel and the State of Minnesota negotiated the
land purchase.

“We had a rare chance to purchase land for an iconic state park.
First-time visitors will be awed by

this landscape, from the rocky outcrops to the islands that dot
this beautiful lake – which is also a prime walleye fishery,” DNR
Commissioner Mark Holsten said. “While some states are scaling back
or closing parks, Minnesotans are reconnecting with their outdoor
heritage by increasing their use of state parks and trails.”

Gov. Pawlenty approved $20 million in bonding money in 2008 for
the land purchase, and for initial planning and development.
Following the purchase, approximately $2 million remains for
initial development of the state park. Once fully developed, the
park could generate more than $9 million in annual visitor spending
to the area.

The DNR is committed to providing some primitive day-use
opportunities at the park as soon as possible, with tentative plans
to open areas as early as late July or early August 2010.

The property will showcase Minnesota’s classic lake country and
provide affordable access to Lake Vermilion. When fully developed,
it will feature modern facilities and amenities to attract new
users and meet the growing demand for overnight use. It will also
complement outdoor recreational opportunities already offered at
Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

A DNR advisory task force helped identify activities and
services that might eventually be provided at the park.

Minnesota’s state park system currently consists of 73 state
park and recreation areas, eight waysides, and 54 state forest
campgrounds and day use areas that total approximately 269,000
acres or about one half of 1 percent of Minnesota’s land base. 
About 9 million people visit Minnesota’s state parks each year with
about 16 percent of those visitors coming from other states and
countries.  About one in every three Minnesotans visits a state
park each year.

Categories: Rob Drieslein

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