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Pristine Lake Superior Park Won’t Serve Campers

March 10, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Park Point extending into Lake Superior from shore.

While nearly all of the Duluth, Minn., Parks and Recreation Commission members said Wednesday (March 9) they’d like to camp on the beach at Park Point, they voted against recommending a campgrounds there as an idea to pursue at this time, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Several expressed concern about damage to the site after the state Department of Natural Resources identified rare species in the vicinity.

“My first thought was no, and then I got excited for it as a primitive site,” said Commissioner Barb Stark. “But with the (DNR) report I was brought back to no.”

Commissioner Jon C. Welles said he was concerned that with years of use by campers, the area would begin to deteriorate.

“I think it could turn into a free-for-all,” he said. “And once beach grass is gone — it’s gone.”

City Councilors Dan Hartman and Jeff Anderson initially talked about the idea last spring after Hartman returned from a vacation with his wife in Hawaii, where they camped on the beach. About 15 Duluth campsites were proposed on city-owned land beyond Sky Harbor Airport on the Lake Superior and harbor side of Minnesota Point.

A DNR report last fall found two rare organisms, American beach grass and the tiger beetle, in the vicinity of the proposed campground. Those types of beach grass and beetles are only found in Minnesota along the Minnesota Point shoreline, the DNR said.

“Nagging in the back of my mind is not the forest, but the dune ecology,” member Thomas Beery said.

Commission Chair Joel Braun said he thought the endeavor could cause a financial burden for the city between having an environmental impact study done as well as paying a caretaker.

“I see it as a burden for the city that right now the city is not in a position for,” he said.

Some commissioners said they thought the idea might be better received in future years if economic situations improve and after a city trails coordinator is hired.

“We are on the edge of something great with the Trails Master Plan,” said Beery. “It may be that the trails coordinator can see in the future if it melds in with the plan.”

“This would give time to look at a primitive camping program in Duluth,” added Liz Mackay, vice president of the Park Point Community Club. “Look at the bigger picture.”

The recommendation from the commissioners will go next to city councilors, but Hartman previously said he probably would drop the campground proposal if the commission recommended the city not pursue the idea.

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