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.