City Agrees to Take Up State Campground Management

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April 20, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

The new pact between the city of East Grand Forks, Minn., and the state of Minnesota over the popular downtown campground along the Red River is a win-win agreement for the city, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

So says Scott Huizenga, the city administrator who joined Mayor Lynn Stauss in negotiating the accord with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“It’s pretty much what we asked for from the beginning,” Huizenga said about the five-year agreement.

The city will receive all of the camping and daily-pass money generated by the Red River State Recreation Area. After subtracting the reimbursement to the DNR for administrative expenses, it still will mean at least $50,000 more in annual revenue for the city.

The second crucial part of the agreement is that the campground will remain a state-designated recreation area. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, facing budget cuts like all state agencies, said in a letter to Stauss that he preferred that the city take over the campground completely.

But the city didn’t want sole control because a majority of the camping reservations are made through the state system.

“Plus, a state park designation has a very big meaning, especially when the people are from out of state or from Canada,” Huizenga said. “State recreational area sounds a lot better than East Grand Forks campground.”

The agreement, which starts in 2012, is tentative, with the parties awaiting the official language.

The campground has played a role in the increased activity downtown. The recreation area attracted more than 55,000 visitors in 2010. The 113 campsites were full almost every summer weekend last year, with more than 80% occupancy overall. The park traditionally is open from early May until late October.

East Grand Forks has invested in the park, helping to create an additional 41 campsites from its original 72. All park workers are city employees, including park manager Gladwyn Lynne, a former DNR naturalist.

About the area:

The creation of the Red River State Recreation Area was a grass root effort that came about as a result of the flood of 1997 that devastated the communities of East Grand Forks, MN and Grand Forks, ND. After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers redrew the floodplain, the Federal Emergency Management Agency bought 500 homes and other buildings in East Grand Forks along the Red and Red Lake rivers. Various structures and homes were removed and the land, now a 1,200-acre greenway, is a state recreation area. Included in this greenway area is a new campground that features 98 campsites including 70 electric sites that have full hookups (sewer and water). The new recreation area also includes trails for walking and biking, areas for picnicking and rivers for fishing and boating. The recreation area's setting in an urban area, offers visitors access to outdoor recreational opportunities as well as shopping and dining facilities within walking distance of one another.

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