Molly Nelson, Dep. of Natural Resources, Parks and Trails, Local 1801
Park and Trails Remain Open
MN state parks have remained open to provide a much-needed source of recreation and relaxation during the Covid-19 pandemic. While most businesses have been closed the past weeks, state parks and trails have been experiencing record-high levels of visitors. Impacts on the trails and nearby woods were occurring due to a large number of visitors, especially at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. This park is known for its spring wildflowers, especially the Dwarf Trout Lily, a federally endangered species that occurs in only 3 counties in the state and nowhere else in the world. Staff had to act quickly to fence off restricted areas to protect the plants and install rope barriers to keep visitors on the trail. Additional interpretive staff were brought in to remind visitors to recreate in a responsible way. All of this was done while park staff was trying to control traffic, overflowing parking lots, and limited bathroom resources. MAPE staff were part of the solution of getting this work done while still being safe and social distancing.