Park Visits Off 15% in Cold & Rainy Minnesota

June 6, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Cold, wet spring in Minnesota dampens outdoor recreation.

The skin tone of Minnesotans might be pastier than normal this year.

It’s not just that the sun hasn’t been shining; people don’t seem to be going outside as much, if fishing and state parks are any indicators, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Fishing license sales are at the lowest level in at least 13 years, and sales of vehicle passes to state park are down as well, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Blame it on the weather, everyone figures.

“My assumption is that it’s primarily been the weather,” said Ed Boggess, director of fish and wildlife for the DNR. “I know we’re seeing the pattern with other outdoor activities.”

Ice lingered on the state’s prime fishing waters for days after the May 11 walleye opener, and several weekends since — including Memorial Day weekend — have featured conditions that were unseasonably cold, windy or rainy — or some combination of each.

Fishing license sales appear to be off historical averages by about 25%, according to DNR data dating back to 2000. The DNR had sold 470,000 fishing licenses as of June 1, compared with 596,000 last year at this time.

And sales of parks passes might be on pace to end a trend of increasing attendance since 2008. Through May, sales of annual vehicle parks permits were down 15% from last year, and sales of daily vehicle parks passes were down 35%. As a result, revenue is down nearly $219,000 from a year ago.

The loss of revenues could have ramifications for the outdoors.

Fishing license sales, for example, pay for fish stocking and lake monitoring.

“I don’t think we’re mathematically out of it yet,” Barrett said. “If we have great weather this summer, we can almost always count on being fully booked on all the holiday weekends. If we have great fall colors, we’ll get a lot of visitors then, and we see no reason the trend of increasing parks use will decline.”

Boggess said previous cold springs have led to lackluster fishing license sales that recovered when the weather improved come summer. Most fishing licenses sold are for the entire season, so from a revenue standpoint, it makes no difference whether someone goes fishing on the opener or waits until July 4.



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