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Minnesota’s Shutdown Forces Campers To Go Elsewhere


The Fourth of July weekend is the heart of the summer. A time when Americans of all stripes kick back and enjoy family, friends and the outdoors.

With the economy still in the tank, gas prices up 100 percent from two years ago – camping has emerged as the vacation concept of choice. When airfares, hotels and dining run from $200 to $800 a day hanging out at the beach or pool seems like a good option.

Today’s camping experience doesn’t have to mean roughing it though. Private camping providers like Jellystone Park franchises offer drop-off laundry service, Wi-Fi, “splashgrounds” and water slides, golf cart rentals and other amenities.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

It’s a good thing private campgrounds have picked up their game. Today in Minnesota, our bonehead Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature have shut down state operations over the budget impasse. “Non-essential” operations closed today include Minnesota’s State Parks where 60,000 campers had reservations to spend the 4th of July weekend at campgrounds across the state. Gates locked, website down (that’s really dumb), water/power shut off, beaches closed. More painful still is the fact that each day the state’s parks remain closed – Minnesota loses $200,000 in revenue. For a state grappling with budget deficit problems this is just bad business.

Really? I thought the parks belonged to the people of the state not to the state government.

State parks might just stay closed too. According to a report by IBISWorld, the country’s 13,000 privately run campgrounds and RV parks grew 3 percent last year after falling nearly 5 percent, in the wake of the recession, in 2009. The outlook for 2011 is stronger still.

Try dropping your laundry off at a state park and see what happens.

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