Service cuts expected at Myre-Big Island

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 15, 2002

Myre-Big Island State Park will feel the effects of budget cuts at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, brought on by the state’s budget deficit.

&uot;Because we rely on tax revenues, like any other state agency, when tax revenues don’t meet the demand, then we have to make cuts,&uot; explained Jerry Katzenmeyer, a DNR official at the state park.

The state legislature made a $5.5 million cut in the DNR’s budget last year and in June of 2002 they cut an additional $7.7 million as part of a $58 million general fund cutback.

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The DNR, in making its own cutbacks, will be closing overnight campsites in 24 of 72 Minnesota state parks. They are also cutting at least 5 percent of agency jobs.

Locally, these cuts will be somewhat less evident, according to Katzenmeyer. The showers and washrooms at the White Fox Campgrounds in the park will be closed and will be replaced with more rustic sanitation facilities &045; those with no running water.

As well as camping facilities, the park is &uot;also going to see cuts in resource-management hours and trail-maintenance hours,&uot; he said.

Cutting down on these hours will mean that non-native species, such as the European Buckthorn, won’t be controlled as much as they have been in the past. The Buckthorn grows rapidly and can take over oak savannas and prairies if it is not contained. But the effects of a lull in control won’t be very damaging if the budget for such things comes back, Katzenmeyer said.

Also, with less trail maintenance, the grass and shrubbery along the trails will not be mowed and trimmed as much. &uot;The trails may not be as pleasant as they usually are for hikers,&uot; said Katzenmeyer. The decrease in maintenance will also mean that the trails are not groomed in the winter for snowmobilers and skiers.

But with all the cuts, there may be some positive results for Myre-Big Island. &uot;There is a possibility that with other area parks closing that we’ll pick up a few more campers who would have stayed in those,&uot; he said.

Nearby Lake Louise and Rice Lake State parks will be closing down their overnight camping facilities after Labor Day.

Still, Katzenmeyer is not pleased with what is happening. &uot;Its going to be a tough time for state parks,&uot; he said. &uot;I feel horrible for those smaller parks who are having to close down.&uot;

All of the changes to the DNR budget will take effect after Labor Day, on Sept. 3.