Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Bear Head Lake State Park in northern Minnesota voted ‘America’s Favorite Park’

Bear Head Lake State Park, just south of the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area Wilderness in Ely, Minn., has been voted as “America’s
Favorite Park” – in a nationwide campaign sponsored by

In addition to the honor, the park received a $100,000 gift –
offered through America’s State Parks Foundation, which was made
possible by Coca-Cola’s Live Positively initiative.

The America Is Your Park campaign, which ran July 29-Aug. 31,
invited Americans to vote online for their favorite state or
national park. The campaign’s goal was to encourage families to be
active outdoors this summer and to visit to help
their favorite park win funding to build, enhance or restore
recreation areas in the parks.

Kevin Morris, vice president, public affairs and communications,
Coca-Cola Enterprises Bottling Cos., presented the gift today to
Mark Holsten, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources (DNR), and Jen Westlund, manager of Bear Head Lake State
Park. The presentation took place at the DNR Headquarters in St.

“This is an incredible honor,” said Westlund. “We’re very
grateful to everyone, both in Minnesota and nationwide, who voted
for Bear Head Lake State Park.”

Holsten said, “We thank Coca-Cola, not only for the generous
gift, but for sponsoring a campaign that generated so much
excitement about our state and national park systems. This effort
is very important to enticing more young families to get outdoors
and stay active.”

By inspiring people to vote for their favorite park, Coca-Cola
raised awareness about many special places around the country,
including some hidden gems like Bear Head Lake State Park. Most
parks around the country are working hard to connect people with
the outdoors, especially the next generation of Americans – a
challenge in lean economic times.

“Minnesotans are passionate about their state parks and trails,”
said Holsten. “They demonstrated the same kind of commitment in
2008, when they voted to support the Clean Water, Land and Legacy
Amendment. This is a state that prides itself on a wealth of
natural resources and a wide range of outdoor recreation

Westlund said the gift will be used to fund construction of a
trail center where hikers, paddlers, snowshoers, and families can
gather before heading outdoors to explore the park.

Bear Head Lake State Park, which has about 100,000 visitors a
year, received more than 1.6 million votes in the campaign,
finishing ahead of larger and busier parks.

“I’m not surprised that this remote park on a beautiful 674-acre
lake received such an outpouring of support, given this state’s
strong conservation ethic,” Holsten added.

More information about Bear Head Lake State Park, including a
virtual tour with 360-degree panoramic photos of the park’s
pristine forests and shoreline, can be found at

Bear Head Lake is one of 73 Minnesota state parks and recreation
areas managed by the DNR Division of Parks and Trails, along with
21 state trails and 32 water trails. There is a state park or trail
within 30 miles of nearly every citizen in the state.

For information about any of these recreational opportunities,
visit or call the DNR Information Center at 651-646-6367,
or toll-free 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday
through Friday.


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