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Is A Campsite Reservation System Needed At Voyageurs National Park?


Is a campsite reservation system needed at Voyageurs National Park? That's the question park officials are asking, and in light of the fact that you need a boat to reach the park's campsites, it might be a good one.

After all, would you want to build a paddling itinerary around specific campsites, only to find them occupied when you paddled up?

Park officials note that this is the final year of a three-year civic engagement discussion to determine if Voyageurs should move to a reservation system.

"Discussions will include charging for campsite use by night to ensure future maintenance and upkeep of the sites," they note in a release. "Interior campsites and boats on the Kabetogama Peninsula will also be finalized based on comments received over the last few years. Day-use sites will not be included in these discussions."

Voyageurs Superintendent Mike Ward says his staff believes they have arrived at "the best formula to maintain the sites while passing on a low cost to the user. Now it is time to discuss it with park neighbors and users and get their opinion of whether we should implement it or not."

Park officials began discussions when the new 49-passenger tour boat required a new fee structure to operate. The public agreed with the boat tour fees and implementation has occurred for the third year without complaint.

Concerns for the potential day-use of interior boats on the Kabetogama Peninsula caused the park to work with the reservation company to ensure day and overnight use could be reserved for these boats at the same fee currently being charged. The public did not support the idea of an entrance fee, boat, or snowmobile sticker so that option has been dropped.

In discussions with communities surrounding the park, there have been many who feel the park should charge for sites and offer reservations in order to bring new users to the area. Many new users will not consider camping in Voyageurs without a reservation system, especially since it is a 100 percent boat-in park, park officials note. All sites are currently first-come, first-served and will remain so if not reserved by midnight the night before for that individual day.

Park officials will be visiting communities and multiple organizations and agencies over the next 30 days to discuss the proposed actions. There will also be a series of public meetings at park headquarters on the following dates and times.

Monday, September 10, 2012:5:30-6:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 13, 2012:5:30-6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012:5:30-6:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 20, 2012:5:30-6:30 p.m.

The public is invited to come to the meetings. Park headquarters is located at 360 Highway 11, International Falls, MN, 56649. Park officials have created a phone number (218-283-6708) for the public to call and be able to express their concerns or support for the reservations and costs for campsites.


It's great to see that at this National Park, the public comments apparently have some bearing upon policy. Unlike at the Smokies where they are suppressed if the outcome doesn't fit a management agenda such as in the backcountry fee controversy. Here they were 18 to 1 in opposition and their response was to minimize the opposition, calling them "token".

I don't agree with any taxes for public land use whatsoever unless you require some specialized service.

Please do not do this. I do spur-of-the-moment trips and this would really be a problem for me. All the good sites, especially the ones with docks, would be reserved, probably months ahead of time. There are spots in the BWCA where permits are reserved early in the year and are never available thereafter. Do you want that to happen in VNP? As for encouraging new users, I see no need to do so. It's crowded enough now.

[size= 16.0pt; font-family: 'Trebuchet MS'; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Trebuchet MS']I feel this is not a good idea for a couple of reasons. First this limits the short term us of campsites for shore lunch, and simply getting out to relax for an hour or two. The number of day use sites on kab is already inadequate for the number of people looking to use them. Second how are reserved campsites to be marked reserved in order to prevent people from using them for a short-term stop? First come first serve is a simple system that is fair to all users. It has been that way on most public hunting areas forever and seems to work fine. If users are looking for a guaranteed spot reserve a site at Wooden frog, or one of the many sites at the area resorts. Lets not create an unnecessarily difficult situation. It's not broke, so why fix it? [/size]



I can see a positive to this reservation system in that at times it is not easy to find a campsite especially the close ones, and to be able to reserve one would garentee a open campsite. That is a positive. However if you reserved one and at the reservation time the weather is bad, you would have to take it or leave it and you could be out of luck for any other site on that date, or another date. I also do not like to have anymore restrictions in the park then are already there. On balance I would have to say no to campsite reservations. Also as far as a fee goes we as tax payers have already paid for the park and will continue to pay for it in the future. We do not need to be double charged for something we have and will be paying for. Or maybe it is the Chinese that has paid for it.

I would like to see some first come first served and a certain percentage reservable. I think when somebody does plan ahead and travels along way, it is nice to know you have a spot reserved. Of course I tend to enjoy the planning and do not get out as often as I would like.

This would be a real bummer for those of us who do not have the ability to plan ahead for our trips. As a small business owner, I can only slip away when the timing is right, not by a date preset in advance. Yes it can be a hassle trying to get a site, but it will also be a hassle trying to get one reserved. They will be booked a year in advance just like most of the camper cabins in the State parks are now. Plus the weather is such a factor on the big lakes and can easily ruin a planned trip.

Please -no. It is very simple (and resonable) with the present system. And yes, I have toured campsites to find an open one.

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