Lake Vermilion State Park grows slowly


Lake Vermilion State Park / Minnesota DNR

The Mesabi Daily News, via the Associated Press, recently published a story on the progress at Lake Vermilion State Park, Minnesota’s first new state park in 30 years and one that grew out of an odd set of political considerations.

The project emerged from the administration of Gov. Tim Pawlenty without the request of local officials on the Iron Range, where Vermilion is the largest, most popular and most expensive lake to live or own a cabin. The deal was to buy out a large stretch of lake shore owned by U.S. Steel to preserve one of the last remaining undeveloped sections of the lake near Tower. The result would be a 3,000-acre state park that, five years later, has yet to open.

Much sniping at the time had to do with the fact that the governor might have been more motivated to satisfy the wealthy landowners on the other side of the bay who wanted to see trees across the lake instead of big houses that look like their big houses. Also, a lot of money changed hands — $20 million to U.S. Steel and more to other land owners and interests. But the core goal was ultimately accepted: It would be a good thing to preserve this area for public use by citizens who couldn’t afford Lake Vermilion property.

After about $30 million of spending, the land has been acquired, trails made and several docks and boat landings have been installed. But additional funding for a visitor center and campground amenities has yet to be secured. Gov. Mark Dayton has been quiet on the project, in part because his landed family is also among those affected by the land deal.

I’d recommend reading the AP story for the progress report on Vermilion State Park. This story bears mentioning because, in typical fashion, the big corporation and private landowners have already drawn their capital out of this deal. U.S. Steel got paid and the landowners across the bay prevented it from being lotted off.  The people, however, have yet to receive their park.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.